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MIT Libraries Staff Web

Staff Advisory Council (SAC): Group Charge

Web presence for the MIT Libraries Staff Advisory Council

Group Charge


Since the release of the Task Force for the Future of Libraries report in late 2016, the MIT Libraries has been in a period of strategic planning and significant change. Our transition to the future is far-reaching and multi-dimensional. While we expect to be in a period of intense and significant transition for the next few years, we also acknowledge that ours is a field and a domain that will experience continual change for some time to come. We seek to create a culture that enables staff to actively create the kind of organization we want to become. To that end we want to establish new systems and structures that enable staff to exercise leadership and influence free from the constraints of organizational hierarchy, to share and act upon ideas, to be heard, and to participate in shared problem solving.

One approach is to provide a systematic way for staff to connect directly with the administration via a new, ongoing, Staff Advisory Council (SAC) that can provide a mechanism for surfacing and addressing staff concerns, and report out the actions taken as a result of their input. The Staff Advisory Council will model and facilitate transparent and constructive communication between staff and senior leadership in the Director’s Group and the Joint Leadership Team.


The Staff Advisory Council (SAC) will concern itself with understanding and advancing organizational health related to staff. The Staff Advisory Council will provide an ongoing vehicle for staff feedback, insights, and advocacy to leaders of the organization that broadens the means for voices to be heard beyond the structured hierarchy and enables greater staff empowerment and higher morale in the Libraries. This group will enable a direct partnership between staff and administration to address staff concerns by facilitating direct upward feedback from staff to senior leadership and enable shared problem solving to build organizational effectiveness.

Team members will take the lead to establish logistics; help identify membership and membership rotation; and identify processes for gathering comments, prioritizing issues, and determining topics to bring to leadership’s attention. The team is encouraged to devise and use a variety of tools to help explore questions of organizational health, diagnose what is happening in the organization, communicate what they have heard to staff, and synthesize and prioritize the information to share with leadership/administrative groups. Inclusivity, transparency and communication with appropriate discretion will be the primary characteristics of the team’s work.


From the SAC:

  • Set up group norms and membership terms to support an effective group process
  • Use a variety of methods to gain insights and feedback from staff about their day to day experiences, needs, and ideas for improvements.
  • Regularly share synthesized input to leadership for further discussion and action
  • Regularly report back to staff updates from leadership in regards to staff concerns
  • A self-evaluation after the first year of operation to ensure the organization can address any necessary improvements to ensure the group’s continued success and support.

From administration:

  • Responses and action addressing staff concerns shared transparently and directly to staff through a variety of in person and/or written communications
  • Transparent communication on the decision making process leading to the communicated out responses and actions

Assumptions include:

  • The Staff Advisory Council is established to pursue constructive discussions between staff and leadership, in the spirit of and support of MIT’s goals, mission, and vision
  • The Staff Advisory Council has several channels available to them to share the group’s input and findings with leadership and make choices about which group or individual is most appropriate to the need at hand. Those avenues include and are not limited to: Any individual member of the Director’s Group, Human Resources staff, or any of the following groups: Director’s Group, Joint Leadership Team, any specific Directorate Leadership Team, Library Council.
  • Members of the Director’s Group and the Joint Leadership Team may not attend meetings or direct topics of discussion
  • The Staff Advisory Council should meet at least two times per month to discuss any concerns communicated and determine any responses; need for additional meetings may be scheduled by the two co-chairs or by agreement of a quorum of SAC members (6).
  • The co-chairs will announce, prepare the agenda, and lead meetings


10 staff members from a broad cross-section of the organization representing diverse workgroups, functional areas, and job classification categories. The membership will be open to all Libraries staff and led by two co-chairs. To ensure that membership is determined as democratically as possible, the following process is suggested:

Individual staff members can either self-nominate or nominate another person. All nominees will check with their supervisor to ensure that there is sufficient capacity to support participation. These nominations will generate an "at large" group. This "at large" group will meet and hold an election to identify the small group (10 people) who will be the active SAC, with time commitment and responsibilities. This ensures that active SAC members have the commitment, bandwidth and time to contribute, understand scope of responsibility, and have backing of staff to represent their interests. The "at large" pool may be tapped at a later date for more focused group input/insight/etc as needed by SAC.

The two co-chairs - one administrative staff member and one support staff member - will be elected by the group. SAC will hold a seat at Library Council and be represented at meetings by either of the two co-chairs. A trained facilitator from outside the organization will be engaged within the first six months of the team’s inception to support and develop members’ skills in group forming, facilitation, and mediation.

Department heads, members of the Director’s Group, and Human Resources staff will not be eligible for participation on the team. Membership of the group should not include a staff member and their supervisor during the same term.


The Director’s Group serves as the sponsor for the Staff Advisory Council.


Rollout of this group is an opportunity to rethink how we communicate this sort of info out to the Libraries.

Process steps for formation:

  • Discuss the charge at Library Council to familiarize everybody with the group and to seek input on the rollout. - completed June 13, 2018
  • Director’s Group will find a facilitator from outside of the Libraries to work with the group in start up. - in progress

Communication to staff and call for volunteers:

  • Announce the group and charge to all library staff - from Chris
  • Put out a call for a couple of staff volunteers to plan and implement the start up of the group, including staff engagement, call for nominations and the process to elect the first members - Chris
  • Assist the volunteers to get the effort going - Shannon

Ongoing communication norms:

  • The SAC will determine how and how often they will communicate the activities of the team to the staff.