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Academic libraries are organized to provide the best possible services given inevitable constraints, such as budgets, available personnel, and space. Recent literature on academic library restructuring has argued that libraries should reorganize their public services along functional lines, and eliminate the traditional, subject-based structure. Proponents of the ‘‘functional specialist’’ structure contend that it allows libraries to be more agile in meeting researcher needs and aligning with institutional priorities. Advocates of the ‘‘subject librarian’’ organization assert that the disciplinary knowledge and close relationships with academic departments engendered with the ‘‘subject librarian’’ approach outweigh the benefits of the functional structure. While several articles propose the ‘‘functional specialist’’ approach, few articles detail successful shifts to this newer structure. Just how prevalent is the functional specialist organization in academic libraries? Using data retrieved from fourteen libraries’ websites, I examined the number and roles of librarian and non-librarian personnel, the number and types of units/departments in each library, the distribution of subject liaison assignments, and the variety of librarian position titles among the libraries to determine their organizational structures. This presentation will review the organizational structure of these academic libraries to determine if how many of them have moved toward the functional specialist approach.


Presented at the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts, and Letters 2020 Annual Meeting.