Organizational Renewal

We in Western Libraries are excited to introduce a new organizational model that will enhance our capacity to advance research, teaching and learning outcomes across campus and beyond. The key elements of our new organizational model are now in place and so, as we begin the fall 2018 academic term, we want to share some important information with the members of our community about our plans for providing library support now, as we transition to our new model, as well as into the future.

What are the new functional areas and teams?

Western Libraries' new organizational structure and integrated services model are built around the following five core functional areas:

  • The User Experience and Student Engagement team provides a seamless experience of library collections and services across our physical and virtual spaces. The team also fosters student engagement through the provision of innovative events and services as a result of collaboration and partnership.
  • The Teaching and Learning team advances the integration of information literacy and other digital literacy skills into course curriculum, provides instruction, and develops a variety of extra-curricular and co-curricular information literacy experiences.
  • The Research and Scholarly Communication team supports and contributes to research on campus throughout the research cycle, including the creation, management, dissemination, and preservation of knowledge and research data.
  • The Content Management, Discovery and Access team provides ongoing access to high quality research collections across Western's disciplines.
  • The Archives and Special Collections team acquires, preserves and provides access to key unique research collections, including digital content.

By way of background, in 2015, Western Libraries embarked on a strategic planning process that resulted in Engage. Empower. Excel., a 5-year strategic plan developed to help us evolve our collections, services and facilities to meet the existing and emerging needs of the members of our campus community. To be successful in carrying out the aspirations of our strategic plan it is necessary for Western Libraries to reconceptualise our service and staffing. Our new organizational model is the result of two years of extensive staff and user engagement.

Over the past many months, Western Libraries staff have established new functional service teams and begun to implement a transition plan. In anticipation of the new academic year, we have spent the summer moving to the new model, introducing elements piece by piece as part of the formal transition process.

What will this mean for the start of the new academic year?

As of September 2018, our users -- Western faculty, students and staff -- will continue to receive the critical support provided by Western Libraries staff to achieve campus research, teaching and learning goals, benefitting from a new functional approach and integrated services model that is focused on the nature of the service being provided, and less on the physical location from which the work is done.

In the new functional model, users will continue to benefit from existing relationships with Western Libraries staff, while having the advantage of access to a broader range of knowledge and expertise and the opportunity to build new relationships and contacts. For example, a faculty member or graduate student who has traditionally worked with a single librarian as a point of contact for collections, teaching and/or research support will now have access to a team of librarians, archivists and other library staff who can provide various types of expertise. The faculty member or graduate student can still reach out to his or her traditional contact, but now this librarian can draw on the expertise of or refer the request to one of many other library colleagues who can then provide a range of both standard and specialized services.

Depending on the nature of the support required, users will begin to see some changes and, depending on the specific library program or service, there may be new staff contacts, new processes, and, realistically, some initial delays in delivery. We will do our best to minimize the impact on our users as we roll out the new model. We continue to appreciate everyone's patience and understanding.

Answers to some common questions

How does the new model differ from the old and what are the benefits?

Western Libraries previously relied on a liaison system, with each Faculty -- and sometimes individual departments and programs -- assigned one specific subject librarian. We have now adopted a functional, team-based approach to providing library services. This transition addresses a variety of opportunities and challenges, including the need to create new services and to specialize in increasingly complex services. A functional approach will also provide opportunity to standardize service quality across faculties and eliminate redundancy across library locations. The model is intended to enhance our ability and capacity to respond to user needs, as we now have teams assigned to provide specific supports and services. In the short term we will still offer the same services as before, and we anticipate that services will evolve and improve as our staff develop their functional expertise. Libraries have evolved tremendously over the last several decades, and our new model is designed to keep Western Libraries adaptable and responsive to the continued transformation of the academic library and the needs of our user community.

Who should I contact to request specific support or services?

In place of having only one specific librarian available to provide all library services, we have an email address ( where you can direct any requests for library services moving forward. This will ensure you get the fastest response from the members of the appropriate library team(s).

Can I still contact the library staff member(s) with whom I have worked in the past?

Absolutely, and they will be happy to hear from you! However, as all library staff now have a primary area of responsibility on one of our functional teams, your previous contact may not be the person who will follow up. If this is the case, please rest assured that your request will be forwarded to the appropriate person or team.

Will there be an impact on the nature or quality of library services?

As we roll out the new model and as individual staff develop skills and take on new roles, there may be some delays in service. In the long term, however, we envision a more balanced and sustainable level of service across all faculties and all service points, which should also lead to improvements in many areas of service.

Where can I learn more or request services?

If you have any questions about these changes or about how to access library services, please contact Western Libraries.

More details on Western Libraries' new organizational model, including further description of the teams described above and a high-level implementation strategy, are available in the Organizational Renewal Initiative: Organizational Model and Structure Report.