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Library Reorganization, Academic Library


One of the earliest decisions the RPT made concerned a new structure and model for management layers in the organization. The RPT supported the dean's recommendation to form an "Executive Committee" composed of the dean and two associate deans. One of the associate directors was planning to retire. The responsibilities within that directorate would be reassigned to the other associate deans. The RPT also supported the [Dean]'s recommendation to change the titles of his senior leadership team from "associate director" to "associate dean." One of the associate deans would be titled "Senior Associate Dean" and would act as a Chief Operating Officer, vested with "hiring authority" responsibilities in the absence of the dean. This model, consistent with that of other schools and colleges, also satisfied the campus desire to see a line of succession in the unit. Given the number of employees in the Libraries, the RPT agreed that the organization could be guided effectively by a three-member executive committee. Salary savings from the soon-to-be-vacated associate director line could support operations in other parts of the organization.

The RPT, then, ostensibly decided to adopt a "team-based" managerial structure and approach, a model that is becoming increasingly prevalent. A team in this respect is defined as having members that "are mutually accountable for achieving the team's results. That is, if the team achieves the results, all members of the team have succeeded; if the team fails to achieve the results, then all members of the team have failed."17 This model would create a system of "interdependence [wherein] members of a team work together to achieve results that cannot be achieved if members work entirely independently."18 This Management Team would also use principles of "shared leadership," which can simply mean that "recognized authority within the team exists, but it is based on whatever expertise is needed at the time, not on someone's position in the organization."19

The biggest change at this stage came to the research services cluster. Influenced by subject librarian re-envisioning in other libraries, such as at Duke University,24 the RPT had decided that subject librarians would maintain their multifaceted duties in the "traditional tripartite model of collections, reference, and instruction"25 as opposed to other alternatives (such as centralizing some in Cluster 4), but recognized that emerging work in scholarly communications, research data services, digital scholarship tools, instructional design, and other areas were also necessary additional aspects to this work (the "subject librarian plus''26). These traditional and emergent functions would be proportioned in differing degrees, however, within an individual's portfolio, depending on the liaison's students' and faculties' disciplinary work: "[t]he subject librarian role is configured based on the needs of the library and the university; it is not a matter of personal preference."27 The RPT also recognized that having only one member of the MT responsible for operational priorities in this large and important body of work for the organization was not an optimal configuration for strategic decision-making. Instruction is one of the Libraries strong suits, for example: over the last five years we have provided over 4,400 instruction sessions to over 86,000 attendees; our ratio of instruction sessions per librarian is 3rd in our AAU peer group, at 14.4 sessions per librarian per year. We are also third in numbers of students taught per librarian, at 301, and in a 2013 survey of students, 82% indicated these sessions were "somewhat important," "very important," or "absolutely necessary."28 Liaison work is just too important for one manager to oversee.