In their report to the Resource Services Management Team, and after much hard work on their part, the Building Access Task Force submitted the following recommendations. In response, the RS Management Team has discussed the report at length and has formulated a set of Resource Services policies with respect to building access and work hours. Some issues we were able to address, and some are still in the process of being implemented. Some have been noted and understood as issues for some staff, but for which we will not be making changes at this time. Comments on the recommendations are indented, following the task force recommendations themselves.
We recommend that as much as possible, building access should be equalized within RS. This would mean finding some way for GLB staff to enter upon arrival, and for Baker staff to work weekends. For Baker, the first preference would be issuing keys and elevator fobs as appropriate. Other options could involve having a “weekend” key and fob available to anyone willing to coordinate a schedule with a coworker, or (our last choice) providing space at the GLB for weekend work. For GLB we have considered several options. While not within “current policy”, our first choice would be to change the exterior door lock into the binding/marking area to one that uses an access code or card access to be used only when the building is not officially open. Another option would be to issue some keys or install card access at the breezeway entrance on the Special Collections side that could allow access to only that small area (staff would be out of the weather while they wait for an “authorized person” to arrive and staff would feel safer in the building).
We have tried to establish times which are standard Resource Services work hours. Actual individual work schedules have some flexibility, but must be negotiated with and approved by the team leader. Within those approved work schedules, building access will be provided for. Approved work schedules will be consistent with building hours and special arrangements.
Practically speaking, if Baker staff can arrange their hours for regular work and/or make-up work during times when the Baker Building is closed, the staff person will need to ensure that another staff person will be present as well. Appropriate keys will be provided in these situations, probably on a 'check-out' basis.
In the GLB, OUL is currently working on figuring out a card entry system for the breezeway door on the Special Collections side. Once implemented, it will be possible for staff to enter the building slightly before the time that their scheduled work hours begin. When completed, there will be some hours during which the building is not accessible by card. For any hours during which work may be approved, at least two library staff must be present in the building. (The exception is for those with assigned responsibility for housekeeping, automated system maintenance, and/or building opening/closing.)
It is important for morale to let employees know they are trusted and treated equally. An objective policy (e.g. anyone willing to accept certain responsibilities gets a key) allows each person to determine for her/himself the level of responsibility that he/she wants. Part of that responsibility could involve communicating with other staff (including LITS) if one intends to work at a time no one is usually scheduled to work. Giving individuals responsibility also avoids burdening other employees.
It is not clear that all staff will feel that these recommendations have been entirely met. It is not a trust issue; it is a safety issue. And we are NOT unconcerned about those few exceptions that may require being in the buildings alone; however, it is part of those staff members' assigned job responsibilities, and the necessary supervisors are fully cognizant of their presence and their requirement to serve in such a way.
We are encouraged that Mathews is making some changes at the Baker building. Over and over the stairwell access to floors was stated as a security issue as well as one of personal safety in times of emergency. Mathews should be further encouraged to install a phone in the lobby and institute some security control in the lobby so that there is not “unscreened” access to the building. Theft and vandalism have been problems in the Baker building so security should be a concern. RS should also take this opportunity to address the need for security and emergency procedures for all staff. We recommend that RS Management write and post a policy that addresses what a staff member needs to do to qualify for a key and elevator fob and what responsibilities are involved.
We are pleased with the changes that the Mathews Company has made in overall building operations. We will continue to communicate staff and library concerns to them as they arise.
In Baker, staff having keys and elevator fobs are those with responsiblity for opening/closing the building and for emergencies. Baker team leaders will work together to determine who these staff might be. Keys/fobs will be available for shared use where after hours and weekend work is approved by the team leader. Responsibilities of those with keys/fobs are to notify appropriate emergency personnel in case of problems.
In the GLB, it is likely that all staff will have a card to permit card access to the building during scheduled work times, including the problematic early morning hours.
We are also encouraged that there has been a security survey. RS management should encourage a re-examination of the existing 1995 policy. RS staff feels much less safe waiting outside than being inside the building. The loading dock area is neither secure while waiting, nor after the door is opened, and left unattended. The policy seems to expect that a mailroom employee will open the building and be in the mailroom, but that is seldom the case now. Other public entrances that are used by RS staff have campus security phones nearby and fewer places for “street people” to hide. The campus side of the building is considered by staff to be safer than the 21st side near the loading dock. Each tenant has an exterior door that could be used for access, and most tenants already constitute an alarm zone although some rewiring would be necessary. We recommend that the loading dock door not be used as the early morning staff entrance (this could be done within the existing 1995 policy). For personal safety reasons, we recommend that RS management work to adjust the current policy so that staff can enter the building upon arrival (while still waiting for the official opening before going to their own offices). RS staff should be aware of emergency procedures and those who enter early should know building responsibilities. The reasons for limiting access that are stated in the 1995 document, include knowing emergency or locking up procedures, but this tends to become circular reasoning (i.e. you have access because you know procedures, but you know procedures because you have access).
A number of enhanced security measures are under consideration for the GLB. We expect that these might be finalized soon. Better lighting at the loading dock, and card access at the Special Collections breezeway door, to include access to staff work areas just before and during scheduled work times, are expected to be part of these changes.
Building security and safety issues are being considered at many levels within the library and by Mathews. Since the Task Force was appointed we have heard many comments about security including many about garage security. We have not addressed the parking security issue since it does not involve access to our workspace. However, the safety of parking is important and we hope that it will be considered.
Parking security is of concern to many. Library management staff will continue to take every opportunity to pass this on to the appropriate university officials.
One comment that does cause us a great deal of concern is that our work/report might result in limiting RS staff’s ability to set their own schedules. Some people are afraid they will be forced to work weekends while others are afraid they will have less ability to have a flexible schedule. We hope that these fears can be quickly laid to rest by a statement from RS Management.
A special note about the wording here: staff do not set their own schedules, though work hours may be arranged in consultation with and with the approval of the team leader. Such flexibility may also be limited by the nature of the job to be performed. We don't expect, however, that these limitations, which have always existed, will result in any changes to current approved work schedules.
We are certain that it has never been the intent of RS or Library Management to make employees feel that they are not trusted, but in many cases this seems to have been the unfortunate effect of the existing situation. Library and RS policies should not result in RS staff being made to feel that they are not trusted as much as housekeeping staff. Any steps that can be taken to correct this impression by improving access will be greatly appreciated by staff.
The specific mention of the housekeeping staff situation suggests that the policies we have developed may not change anyone's mind, if they currently feel untrusted, because there will continue to be a number of legitimate and necessary exceptions to the policies that are generally adopted for RS staff. We do hope, however, that the changes we can make will allay some of the staff concerns.
18 October 2002