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McGill Reporter
February 22, 2001 - Volume 33 Number 11
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To the editor:

That's It!! I've had it with the new 2001 McGill telephone directory! It's not a telephone directory; it's an organogram run amok!

For example, the dispatcher for what used to be called "Facilities Management," and before that "Physical Plant," and before that "Buildings and Grounds" was at least listed as the first telephone number under that heading. In the new directory, Physical Plant is called "Facilities Management and Development," and the dispatcher is listed as the 20th number under "Operations 3rd Floor" which is the sixth people-group under FM&D.

Remember, it's the dispatcher you need to call when a pipe has burst and your office/lab is flooding. Cleverly concealed, that number might as well be unlisted.

Want to buy a computer from the Computer Store? Be sure to look at the second page of "Ancillary Services," and don't expect to find it listed alphabetically, as it follows Stationery Supplier and Travel Liaison, right after Alcohol Permits (seems significant, somehow...).

Has someone broken into your office and stolen that new computer, and you want to call Security? Look under "Human Resources"; I couldn't find a "Burglar" sub grouping there.

Do you have a 200 research account and need to contact Special Funds?

You are directed to see Accounting. There, one searches in vain for the words "Special Funds."

Do you need to contact the Research Grants Office to see whether your hard-fought and successful grant has materialized and the funding has been received? Look under Vice-Principal - Research.

Last, but not least, "McGill Reporter" is listed under "University Relations Office."

One might defend this misguided attempt at a telephone directory by saying that one concern was to keep printing and paper costs to a minimum.

Right. "Computer Store," Security Services," "Research Grants Office," and many other examples of double listing of headings can be found that are wasteful of white space. It seems apparent that offices and services are arranged in the listings as they are found in the University organogram, irrespective of the seeker's intuition and requirements.

I can only chuckle at "Liaison: see Admissions, Recruitment and Registrar's Office."

Orval A. Mamer, PhD
Director, Mass Spectrometry Unit, and Professor of Medicine

We invited Gary Bernstein, the director of Network and Communications Services, to respond.

To the editor:

Network and Communications Services - Voice Technologies (NCS), formerly McGill Telecom, is the publisher of the McGill Telephone Directory. To follow on the heels of Dr. Mamer's somewhat sardonic communication this, in itself, is somewhat amusing. After all, who would possibly think of addressing a complaint about the phone book to NCS!?

In many ways I agree with Dr. Mamer's complaint that the book has deteriorated into an "organogram," but I make no apologies for this.

Since its inception in 1987, the content of the publication has always been controlled by the faculties and departments, in keeping with the democratic nature of the "McGill System."

We heavy-handed central administrators pride ourselves on not always doing the "right thing" in favor of allowing as much control as possible to prevail at the edges. So, when you see "Security" published under "Human Resources," that's their decision, not ours. We do allow departments to publish divisions separately (as was previously the case with "Security"), but the final call is theirs.

Similarly, how the names and functions of the individuals within a department are published is the decision of the chair, director or dean; hence, the relatively buried position of "dispatcher" within Facilities Management and Development.

In all fairness, however, I would like to point out that the very first entries on the inside cover of the directory are the three most important telephone numbers in the University, "Security" being one of them. I will paraphrase Dickens to Dr. Mamer on this one: "Let us start at the beginning."

His other complaint focuses on the number of trees that we kill by listing the "see other department" in the body of the directory. (Particularly amusing in this respect is page 13, one that we are particularly proud of, which is almost entirely composed of "see page xx"!)

Again, I can't offer apologies for this format. That "University Management Systems" (remember them?) changed their name to "Information Systems Resources" or that "Physical Plant" became "Facilities Development" and "Facilities Management" (wait 'till you see what's coming up next!) is beyond our control.

We used to kill fewer trees by publishing a "See Index," a concentrated listing at the front of the directory. Year after year, the number one complaint that we would receive was that this format just didn't work and to please go back to the way that it used to be done in 1970 when Mrs. Ash ran the Switchboard (since then renamed, in order, "Telecommunications Office," "McGill Telecom" and "Network and Communications Services - Voice Technologies"). I suppose that our department has made more progress than most.

Gary Bernstein
Director, Network and Communications Services

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