Debrief Meeting with Cross-departmental Tri-agency Team, June 26 2015

A message from Julie Hannaford:

Debrief Meeting with Cross-departmental Tri-agency Team, June 26 2015

One of the key recommendations from the external liaison report is the need to re-conceptualize how we respond to faculty and student needs. The reviewers suggest using nimble teams that can readily respond to requests as they arise from our various stakeholders.

Recently, a small group had to coalesce around university requirements related to the Tri-Council Open Access (OA) policy. We realized that we had formed a cross-departmental, responsive team, just as the report recommended and considered it to be both an excellent experiment and learning opportunity. While there is much discussion that needs to occur related to unpacking all of the recommendations from the report, we feel that this teamwork has lessons to share with everyone. We met recently to review our progress. What follows is a summary of our discussion.

Group: Bobby Glushko, Julie Hannaford, Mariya Maistrovskaya, Steve Marks, Sian Meikle, Rita Vine

 Purpose: Lori Ferris, Associate Vice-President for Research Oversight and Compliance requested advice related to how the library could support faculty compliance with the Tri-Council OA policy


  • Production of a one-pager that outlines the main services that the library offers to support faculty
  • Production of a PPT presentation that can be tailored to different faculties, outlining the OA policy, key issues and library programs and services that support faculty with their compliance
  • Delivery of two presentations: one to the Research Advisory Board and another to the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering


  • Such teams need a leader – someone who is accountable for the completion of the project’s tasks and timelines to ensure project success.  That person should have accountability, and be able to follow up legitimately with group participants. While that person may not be a supervisor in the official sense, he/she needs to be given the mandate/authority to lead and coordinate as required.
  • If we move to a more team-based model, people will need training so that they have the skills they need to lead projects.  This could take the form of a group session(s) on project management. Another idea would be to pair up a new team lead with a more experienced one to co-lead a project. The more experienced person could then provide mentorship, feedback and guidance.
  • When a team disbands, there needs to be a plan in place, including how to archive content that we made, make it available to others and/or move any ongoing work into the workflows of existing units. There could be a role for a resurrected intranet to hold this kind of content when it leaves Confluence.
  • There needs to be careful thought given to whether a team model makes sense for a given project and if so, who the right people are for the project’s requirements.
  • To find the right people to bring to the table, we all have to know what everyone else is doing. Given our scale and complexity, this can be very hard. Is it worth reconstituting the idea of individual (non-public) optional profiles so that we could look up each other’s skills more easily?  ACTION ITEM: Sian to provide options
  • For a team to coalesce, everyone has to pull together. This team was very successful at ignoring boundaries and traditional structures; thinking more flexibly and openly about how the work could be done.
  • Moving forward, if we establish more teams, we need to reconcile the role of a team with the role of a committee, to ensure no overlap.  We need to be clear in our minds what committees do versus teams. In general, committees can be very good for obtaining feedback and input, which is very important and wanted across the libraries.  Some of the larger committees may be less suited for actionable items because they are so large, but could have sub-committees/working groups form that report into them.
  • There is an open question regarding who should constitute a team. A lot of impetus will come from Senior Staff and UTLExec but there are also great people making their own teams.  There have been some small groups formed to fix problems on the fly (e.g. Libcal2 migration, training), which have a defined end.  A cross-departmental team may be better for a longer, more complex project or initiative, part or all of which will continue over time. Small groups solve problems and don’t necessarily need management prior approval. Big groups implement new initiatives and projects and will likely require management approval.
  • ITS often plays a role in projects, which puts many demands on their resourcing. Could ITS train staff in other departments so that they can contribute more to projects and free up ITS? An excellent example is the recent placement of Judith Logan in ITS who was able to contribute significantly to the recent website redesign and launch. Encouraging more cross-departmental placements in ITS (and other departments as well) is one mechanism that can help in this area.   Such exchanges allow librarians to contribute to a defined project in new areas. ACTION ITEM: Julie to do a new call for expressions of interest for cross-departmental placements.


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