Positioning Academic Libraries For The Future: A Process And Strategy For Organizational Transformation


Paper presented at the 35th IATUL Conference (International Association of Scientific and Technological University Libraries), June 2-5, 2014, Aalto University, Espoo, Finland.

Ellis, Erin L.; Rosenblum, Brian; Stratton, John M.; Ames-Stratton, Kathleen

Seeking to more effectively respond to campus initiatives and user expectations, the University of Kansas (KU) Libraries underwent a process of significant organizational review and transformation. Guided by a purposeful, open process, a diverse and representative group was elected to serve on the Libraries Organizational Review Team (ORT) to assess the existing organizational structure, determine major functions and cross-functional areas therein, and identify new and vital activities and positions essential for achieving our strategic priorities. Recognizing, too, the trends and challenges occurring within higher education and academic libraries, ORT sought to redefine professional roles and functions to strategically position the Libraries for the future. Utilizing peer institutional research, library literature and reports, and focus groups with each library unit, the team ultimately recommended a significant overhaul of the Libraries’ organizational structure. Broadly, the recommendation was for an adaptive and agile structure that is more responsive to university priorities, technological developments, and resource constraints. Specifically, ORT recommended a structure driven by contemporary user expectations and supportive of new modes of scholarly communication, new pedagogical methods, and data management. The recommended organizational design is fluid and user-focused with an emphasis on integrating into the academic life of scholars and students. This paper will report on the purposeful ‘grassroots’ approach undertaken by the team and its creative processes of organizational review. Additionally, the authors will present ORT’s final recommendations, as well as the rationale thereof. Finally, the authors will illustrate the new organizational model and analyze the efficacy and challenges of the reorganization.