Administration and cross-functional teams in libraries. A case study in failures and solutions

Published date13 June 2017
Date13 June 2017
AuthorJoy M. Perrin,Justin Daniel
Subject MatterLibrary & information science,Librarianship/library management,HR in libraries,Library strategy,Library promotion
Administration and cross-
functional teams in libraries
A case study in failures and solutions
Joy M. Perrin and Justin Daniel
Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas, USA
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to assist library administration in avoiding cross-functional team pitfalls.
Design/methodology/approach This paper reportsthe results of years of cross-fucntiional teams at an
academic Library.Reports results of years of cross-functionalteams at an academic Library.
Findings Through shared trial and errors, readers will be able to avoid pitfalls and formulate questions not
previously considered for their pursuit of cross-functional teams.
Research limitations/implications While this is a case study, the lessons learned can be applied at any
library where cross-functional teams are considered.
Originality/value This study provides an account of teams at an academic library spanning a decade.
Trials and tribulations are discussed.
Keywords Teams, Website, Administration, Cross-functional, Pitfalls, Web design
Paper type Case study
The implementation of cross-functional teams in libraries can be difficult with multiple
people coming together to do a task that is often outside of their job description. While the
interworking of effective teams is important, the focus of this paper is on the administration
of cross-functional teams and how it can easily go astray and solutions to those problems.
Cross-functional teams are common in libraries because of the need for collaboration
between different functional units. Since many tasks affect different aspects of a library,
they could also benefit from those areasinvolvement in the process. This is why
cross-functional teams are so appealing to library administrators. However, cross-functional
teams (teams created with people from different units, different departments or different job
factions) present additional challenges to administrators. Cross-functional teams need new
administrative lines developed in order to function. Effectively managing cross-functional
teams requires extra effort and attention from administrators.
To illustrate thispoint, this paper presents a case study of cross-functionalteams focused
on web development and maintenance at a single institution. The paper will help
administratorsunderstand the challenges cross-functionalteams can face and how to prevent
the problems from happening or correct them once they have happened. It is important for
administrators to consider these problems before creating cross-functional teams because
without this knowledge of potential problems and their solutions, administrators can often
repeat mistakes, unintentionally sabotaging even the most effective teams.
Literature review
Different kinds of teams
According to Katzenbach and Smith (2004), there are three different kinds of teams: teams
that recommend things, teams that do things and teams that run things. Teams that
recommend things are asked to solve particular problems. They usually have predetermined
completion dates (Katzenbach and Smith, 2004, p. 16). Second, there are teams that make or
do and are not typically dissolved; their work is ongoing. Lastly, teams that run things tend
to manage other teams, and they are usually at the top of the organization and one of the
Library Management
Vol. 38 No. 4/5, 2017
pp. 219-225
© Emerald PublishingLimited
DOI 10.1108/LM-08-2016-0066
Received 29 August 2016
Revised 30 January 2017
Accepted 7 February 2017
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
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