Library Attendants in Australian University Libraries

(CAUL questionnaire 11 April 1995)

Compiled and updated by The University of Queensland Libraries June 1995


Q.1 Do all people at the base level share all tasks - i.e. desk duties, shelving, special duties like shelf erection, furniture movement etc.?

Australian                     Does not employ Attendants for shelving and similar   
NationalUniversity             duties.  Shelf erection, furniture movement,courier   
                               runs, ordering stationery and equipment, and          
                               liaising with Buildings & Grounds on repairs and      
                               maintenance of Library buildings are performed by     
                               permanent staff in the Library's Administrative       
                               Section.  Loans desk staff (ANU Officers Grades 2     
                               and 3) perform all circulation duties and assist      
                               with shelving if required.  They do not assist with   
                               furniture movement or shelf erection.                 

Central Queensland University  HEW level 2 staff perform any relevant duties at      
                               that level.                                           

Curtin University of           No separate classification for Library Attendants.    
Technology                     All Library Assistants (HEGS 3) share these tasks.    

Charles Sturt University       Yes                                                   

Deakin University              Not applicable                                        

Flinders University of South   Student casuals erect shelves and move furniture      
Australia                      under supervision.  All permanent HEO2 level staff    
                               are rostered for one hour shelving daily.             

La Trobe University            Integrating attendants with other staff under         
                               consideration.                                        

Monash University              Attendants re-graded to HEW level 3 equal with        
                               Library Assistants.  Most Attendant duties concern    
                               re-shelving, furniture moving etc. as Assistants not  
                               asked to do these.  New HEW level 2 category of       
                               Assistant Attendants created whose duties include     
                               re-shelving, photocopying, furniture moving etc.      

Queensland University of       Shelvers and loans desk attendants are HEW level 3    
Technology                     and are used interchangeably.  The exception is at    
                               Kelvin Grove campus.  Cleaners do all furniture       
                               moving.                                               

University of Adelaide         All staff at HEO2 level can be asked to do these      
                               jobs;  in practice they are done mainly by            
                               reshelving staff.                                     

University of Melbourne        Attendants responsible for shelving and security.     
                               Shelf erection/furniture movement depend on time      
                               required;  if additional help required this comes     
                               from General Services Unit or is contracted out.      

University of New South Wales  General Library Assistants perform these duties.      

University of Newcastle        Yes.  Includes simple charging/discharging items -    
                               complex problems referred to higher level staff.      

University of South Australia  Library Attendants are not employed.                  

University of Southern         No separate staff classification for Library          
Queensland                     Attendants.                                           

University of Sydney           General Library Assistants (Level 2) shelve and       
                               staff service desks.  Level 3 GLAs do not shelve.     

University of Tasmania         Yes                                                   

University of Western          Yes                                                   
Australia                                                                            

University of Western Sydney   A staff reorganisation is being considered.           


Q.2 If tasks are not fully shared, on what basis are they distributed?

Australian Nat. Univ.          Does not employ Library Attendants.  See Q.1  above.  

Central Qld Univ.              No comment.                                           

Curtin Univ.of Tech.           No comment.                                           

Charles Sturt Univ.            Depends on circumstances                              

Flinders Univ. of S.A.         All staff have usual duties plus a shelving roster.   

La Trobe University            Integrating attendants with other staff under         
                               consideration.                                        

Monash University              Library Assistants' duties mainly at circulation      
                               desk;  Attendants include occasional charging and     
                               relief discharging, security, re-shelving, moving     
                               furniture etc.  Assistants do all work in branches    
                               without Attendants.                                   

Qld Univ. of Tech.             Shelvers and loans desk assistants used               
                               interchangeably.                                      

University of Adelaide         Staff work in at least two areas of Lending Services  
                               - reshelving, ILL, loans, reserve and membership      
                               services.                                             

University of Melb.            Tasks not fully shared at present;  still under       
                               consideration.                                        

University of Newcastle        Depends whether employed in shelving area, or Short   
                               Loan area.                                            

University of New South Wales  Core duties are fully shared, but some                
                               specialisation has occurred.                          

University of S.A.             Library Attendants are not employed.                  

University of Sth Qld          No separate staff classification for Attendants.      

University of Sydney           Employs two separate groups - shelvers and            
                               non-shelvers.                                         

University of Tasmania         Shelving tends to be put off by circulation           
                               assistants when there is too much work.               

University of Western          When attendants were integrated some were exempt      
Australia                      from the desk roster.                                 

Univ. of West Sydney           A staff reorganisation is being considered.           


Q.3 Have any industrial or personnel management problems arisen through task differentiation between staff?

Australian Nat. Univ.          See Q.1 above                                         

Central Queensland University  Some dissatisfaction with the outcome of recent job   
                               evaluations was expressed, but this resulted from     
                               higher level of tasks undertaken by shelf             
                               maintenance staff also working in technical           
                               services.  The work undertaken there had allowed      
                               these staff to move up to a level on the HEW band,    
                               while staff employed wholly in shelf maintenance      
                               remained at the same level.                           

Curtin University              No.  Moves were gradual and involved considerable     
                               staff training and development.  A special library    
                               programme on customer skills was run;  there is also  
                               a range of courses through the library's Staff        
                               Training and Development Section.                     

Charles Sturt Univ.            None that were formally reported beyond the library.  

Flinders University of South   With shelving being shared by a much greater number   
Australia                      of staff working shorter periods this has virtually   
                               solved the problem.                                   

La Trobe University            Integrating attendants with other staff under         
                               consideration.                                        

Monash University              No                                                    

Newcastle University           No.  Little difference between the tasks performed    
                               at Level 1 (Attendant) and Level 2 (General Library   
                               Assistant).                                           

Qld Univ. of Tech.             No comment                                            

University of Adelaide         No                                                    

University of Melbourne        Yes.  Attendants have slightly different conditions   
                               of employment e.g. regular overtime and shift work,   
                               and receive uniforms.  The Loans area uses casual     
                               staff for excess demand;  no uniforms are supplied.   
                               Attendants have been concerned these will be lost     
                               and at different times have refused to work towards   
                               integration.                                          

University of New South Wales  Personnel management problems were eased by allowing  
                               staff to choose specific duties according to special  
                               needs.  Problems were further reduced by appointing   
                               new staff to split positions.                         

University of S.A.             Library attendants are not employed.                  

Univ. of Sth Qld               No separate staff classification for attendants.      

University of Sydney           It has proved impossible to get Level 2 staff who     
                               have not worked as shelvers to shelve.  Many cite     
                               occupational health problems.                         

University of Tas.             No                                                    

University of W.A.             No                                                    

Univ. of West Sydney           A staff reorganisation is under consideration.        


Q.4 Did any problems arise in integrating attendant staff into a group of assistants; (e.g. did all attendants have the requisite educational background to cope) and if so how were issues resolved?

Australian Nat. Univ.          See Q.1 above                                         

Central Qld. Univ.             No                                                    

Curtin University              Not all staff accepted the moves.  As staff retired   
                               new positions were advertised which covered all       
                               duties.                                               

Charles Sturt University       The backgrounds of existing staff were tolerated;     
                               new appointees required appropriate qualifications.   

Flinders University of South   Staff quickly learned new skills and were relieved    
Australia                      to have less physical work.                           

La Trobe University            Integrating attendants with other staff under         
                               consideration.                                        

Monash University              No                                                    

Newcastle University           No                                                    

Qld Univ. of Tech.             No comment                                            

University of Adelaide         No                                                    

University of Melbourne        Some;  issues are still being worked through and it   
                               is possible selection criteria will be altered in     
                               the future.                                           

University of N.S.W.           No                                                    

University of S.A.             Library attendants are not employed.                  

Univ. of Sth Qld               No separate staff classification for attendants.      

University of Sydney           No                                                    

University of Tas.             Not applicable                                        

University of W.A.             No                                                    

Univ. of West Sydney           A staff reorganisation is under consideration.        


Q.5 Did any problems arise with assigning assistants to shelving duties?

Australian Nat. Univ.          See Q.1 above                                         

Central Qld University         No comment                                            

Curtin University              Some injury problems through improper techniques.     

Charles Sturt Univ.            No                                                    

Flinders Univ. of S.A.         A few injury problems.  Shelving is now included on   
                               the duty statement of all HEO2 staff.                 

La Trobe University            Integrating attendants with other staff under         
                               consideration.                                        

Monash University              No                                                    

Newcastle University           No                                                    

Qld. Univ. of Tech.            No comment                                            

University of Adelaide         No                                                    

University of Melb.            Yes                                                   

University of N.S.W.           No                                                    

University of S.A.             Library attendants are not employed.                  

University of Sth.Qld.         No separate classification for attendants.            

University of Sydney           Yes                                                   

University of Tasmania         No                                                    

University of W.A.             Staff didn't like it;  one RSI case resulted.         

University of West.Syd.        A staff reorganisation is under consideration.        


Q.6 Were there any attitudinal issues needing resolution in integrating attendants with assistants?

Australian Nat. Univ.          See Q.1 above                                         

Central Qld.Univ.              No comment                                            

Curtin University              No                                                    

Charles Sturt Univ.            Importance of punctuality when rostered on service    
                               points.                                               

Flinders Univ. of S.A.         No                                                    

La Trobe University            Integrating attendants with other staff under         
                               consideration.                                        

Monash University              No                                                    

Newcastle University           No                                                    

Qld. Univ. of Tech.            No comment                                            

University of Adelaide         Very few                                              

University of Melb.            Yes.  Loans staff are not convinced there is any      
                               benefit to them in the proposal.                      

University of N.S.W.           Resolved                                              

University of S.A.             Library attendants are not employed.                  

University of Sth. Qld.        No separate staff classification for attendants.      

University of Sydney           Shelving work was considered to be of low status and  
                               therefore shelvers could not manage other work.       

University of Tas.             Not applicable                                        

University of W.A.             Yes                                                   

University of West.Syd.        A staff reorganisation is under consideration. 

Q.7    Do you have any feel for the pros and cons of the new arrangement,
 including any data on comparative shelving rates and overall costs?       

Australian Nat. Univ.        See Q.1 above                                           

Central Qld. Univ.           No comment.  Staff working in shelf maintenance and     
                             circulations are expected to assist in either areas as  
                             work fluctuations permit.                               

Curtin University            Generally considered a wise move.                       

Charles Sturt Univ.          New arrangement preferred, but no formal data.          

Flinders Univ. of S.A.       Consensus is more efficient with less physical strain   
                             to staff.                                               

La Trobe University          Integration of attendants with other staff under        
                             consideration.                                          

Monash University            No.  Providing uniforms for attendants has given them   
                             authority when dealing with recalcitrant users.         

Newcastle University         Moving desk staff to shelve, and vice versa, would      
                             require extensive training programmes and cause         
                             resistance from those reluctant to move to the          
                             circulation desk.  Retraining costs and loss of         
                             "expertise" would be quite high.                        

Qld. Univ. of Tech.          No comment                                              

University of Adelaide       Gives some flexibility but reshelving duties seen as    
                             loss of status.                                         

University of Melb.          No comparative data                                     

University of N.S.W.         New arrangements provide greater flexibility of staff.  

University of S.A.           Library attendants are not employed.                    

Univ. of Sth. Qld.           No separate staff classification for attendants.        

University of Sydney         Given up trying to convince staff not in usual          
                             shelving jobs to shelve regularly.  Using more          
                             shelving staff for desk work.  Staff freezes mean many  
                             jobs filled in a temporary capacity.                    

University of Tas.           A person can only concentrate on shelving for a few     
                             hours.  The more shelvers the better.                   

University of W.A.           No comment                                              

Univ. of West. Syd.          A staff reorganisation is under consideration.          



Updated 8 September 1995

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