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Exterior View Of The University Of Ottawa Library, A Brutalist Concrete Building.

uOttawa library organizational renewal project

By Liz Hayden

The University of Ottawa Library has embarked on a comprehensive organizational renewal to ensure that its structure is well-positioned for the future, shifting from a model centered on physical locations to one that is function-based. The Organizational Renewal (OR) project has been underway since 2016 and we began transitioning to the new organizational model in January 2018.

Staff engagement and change management

The OR project plan identified two critical success criteria related to staff engagement:

  • Encourage robust and meaningful staff participation in the renewal process
  • Maintain open communication and dialog with all project stakeholders throughout the project
A group of people, their back to the camera, are observing sheets of paper and sticky notes taped to a wall.
Library staff members reviewing and commenting on the proposed new organizational model story board in Ottawa, 2017. Photo: L. Hayden

To this end, we planned the project as a series of building blocks.

  1. We began by crafting a communication plan which included regular updates from the project sponsor, a project website, and on-going meetings with stakeholders. We also set in place a change management plan based in part on the ProSci ADKAR model of individual change. This model was adopted because we anticipated that the project would impact every member of the Library staff team.
  2. We formed an Organizational Renewal Team (ORT), made up of eight staff members representing all the Library sectors, to complete external and internal environmental scans and recommend a new organizational model.
  3. We then consulted all staff on the new organizational model proposed by the ORT. We asked staff to consider the recommended functional divisions and express if they thought this model would lead to the Library successfully meeting its project goals. The capstone event for this step of the project was a story board style consultation display where staff were invited to review and comment on the summary of all the information gathered during the consultation phase.
  4. Next, we formed six working groups to define the organizational model’s six new divisions in more depth: vision of the work to be carried out, detailed descriptions of the work, resources required, relationships between units, gaps and overlap within units, etc. The goal was to produce a clear, focused and achievable recommendation for the Library’s new organizational model.

Many opportunities for feedback

People engaged in discussion around a table, on which there are colourful play blocks, sheets of paper and sticky notes. Another table is seen in the background, as well as a person standing reading a flip chart (illegible text).
Library staff members engaged in a workshop on the proposed new organizational model in Ottawa, 2017. Photo: L. Hayden

Library staff members have been very engaged in the OR project. Over 50% of staff participated in the formal events organized by the ORT, such as focus groups, ORT Campus Tour meetings, 1-on-1 meetings, and a Design Your Own Org Chart session. During the staff consultation phase, over 70% attended at least one consultation event and the working groups represented over 20% of staff members. Throughout the project, feedback has also been received by email, via the website, and through scheduled team meetings and individual drop-ins. Finally, we have a 70+% participation rate in the change management sessions we have organized to date.

The OR project is still underway; to date, 30% of positions have been transitioned to the new model. We recognize that we need to support each individual member of the Library team through this change and that staff engagement and communication are and will continue to be critically important to the success of the Library’s Organizational Renewal project.

Liz Hayden is the Associate University Librarian of Strategy and Planning at the University of Ottawa Library. She is the project manager for the Library’s organizational renewal project and can be reached at liz.hayden [at]

Header image by Douglas Sprott (CC-BY-NC)

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