In April 2001 the Special Committee was formed and was charged with developing universal performance measures that can be used for self-assessment by individual librarians or for performance evaluation of law librarians by employers. These performance measures should be adaptable to law librarians who are working in various types of law libraries. The performance measures should be based on the Competencies for Law Librarians, approved by the Executive Board in April, 2001.
The Special Committee was also charged with preparing an interim progress report for the Board's April, 2002 meeting. The following information is provided as our Interim Report.
The Committee met twice at the AALL Annual Meeting in July and shared information on performance measures. During the meeting the Chair was asked to set up a Listserv so that the Committee could communicate regularly. The Committee also agreed to participate in monthly conference calls to compare notes and get feedback on their work. The group discussed the need to meet face to face before the July 2002 meeting, possibly in Chicago, to refine our work and work out differences that might surface. The members left the meeting in Minneapolis with assignments for locating experts in the field and locating other systems we might use as models. Committee members also began experimenting with preparing measures for the general competencies and agreed to apply a simple performance measurement system generated as a part of our July discussions.
The Listserv was initiated in September. The Committee also began holding conference calls in October 2001. The Committee discovered some difficulties while trying to work through the approved competencies and developing a measurement system that made sense. During the first conference call in October Mary Jane Kelsey pointed us to some relevant and extensive competency and performance measurement work on the AICPA website. We also located several outside experts and discussed the need to use one of them because of the difficulties we were experiencing with our first experiments in drafting performance measures for the core competencies as they are currently written.
The Chair approached several experts, Cooper, Briggs, Sullivan, and McClure to discuss our project and the possibility of facilitating a spring committee meeting. The Chair asked the Board for $5,950 for a spring meeting in Chicago, but we were not funded. During her explorations with consultants, the Chair received some free advice from Ken Cooper, author of Effective Competency Modeling and Reporting. After reviewing our initial work and the AALL Competencies document he made several comments that were very helpful. He suggested that we were having difficulty because the competencies are a heavy mix of competence and performance measures, there are too many compound items in each competency area, and there are many personal attributes that are labeled as competencies. He said there are actually as many as 300 competencies and attributes wrapped into the AALL document. He suggested we go back and try to determine what the intent was and then pull out the 30-40 "critical" competencies to actually measure.
After getting President Bintliff's approval to rephrase the current competencies into measurable concepts, the group has followed Cooper's advice to concentrate on the critical competencies. Initially the Chair was charged with using some of the information provided by the facilitator to work on drafting more specific General Competency (1.1 to 1.16) terms and definitions. She used Anntoinette D. Lucia's and Richard Lepsinger's book, The Art and Science of Competency Models, Jossey-Bass (1999) for many of the revised terms and definition statements. The Committee believes this language is more concrete, easier to define, and create performance measures for than the language in the competencies as they are currently written. We believe we are expanding on the competencies work already completed, clarifying it, and further defining the original work that accurately reflects the intent of the AALL Competencies drafters. Once we agree on new terms we will begin creating Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced measurements for each term. We discussed and decided not to include a paraprofessional category in the measurements. We have also agreed to use areas similar to the AICPA's general competencies ; Functional Expertise/ Knowledge/ Abilities, Communication Skills, Leadership, Professional Perspective, Personal Attributes to shape our work.
We have also made considerable progress in ascertaining some of the "history" behind the original document which we understand was created to help in developing continuing education programs. We are now discussing whether certain competencies belong in one or more of the general categories we've created and which of the competencies should be included in every law librarian's job description. We believe we have refined concepts that the drafters intended, and winnowed our work down to approximately 40 competencies we can measure. President Bintliff has approved this approach and Vice-President Nicholson, our committee liaison, has provided the committee with advice during our conference calls. See attached web document.
The committee members asked the Chair to request funding for a facilitator for the next phase of our work; preparing performance measures. President Bintliff has approved up to $500 to fund using the facilitator for conference calls as we begin to measure the competencies we choose.
Our next step is validating our current work. We believe we now need to get feedback from membership on our preliminary work. We will also ask for membership input during the year via e-mail starting with a small member sample using a focus group type of approach and working to include the majority of the membership later possibly during the Annual Meeting, at the SIS Council Training sessions in Orlando. Some of the validation methodology set out in the Lucia and Lepsinger book is useful. The authors suggest using strong performers to validate competency terminology and definitions and to help in establishing performance measures. We hope to include both strong performers and newer librarians in validating our work at this initial stage and in the final stage.
Now that our initial work and the chart we've created is nearly complete, the Chair will ask Headquarters staff to mount a web page on the AALL website initially for committee use only and later for dissemination to the membership.