Catherine Robinson

Location: Information School, Regent Court 318


After completing a BA in History at the University of Leeds, I started working in an FE library. I then undertook my MA in Librarianship at the Information School part-time between 2013 and 2015, while I continued to work in FE libraries. For my MA dissertation I undertook research to investigate the reasons why senior managers were deciding to restructure their subject-based teams into functional teams. My doctoral research builds upon the findings of this initial study I undertook.

In addition to my doctoral studies, I am a member of the Libraries and Information Society Research Group, as well as providing teaching support on some postgraduate modules within the School, including Management for Library and Information Services, Information Retrieval and Research Methods.

PhD title

Subject v. functional: the relationship between changing organisational structures and the transformation of academic libraries and the profession of librarianship

Project description

In the UK, most university libraries have come to organise their academic services librarians around the structure of the academic departments of the institution they serve, leading to the development of the “Subject Librarian” role. While there has been significant changes and developments to the role over the years, the key traditional organisation around subjects remained. However, in recent years there has been a growing trend in academic libraries abandoning the Subject Librarian model and undergoing restructures around functional teams.

This mixed methods study aims to assess the relationship between organisational structural changes and the transformation of the academic library, with a particular emphasis on exploring and explaining how functional teams are being used in university libraries in comparison to subject-based teams to provide teaching, learning and research support to users. This includes investigating how the different organisational structures of academic libraries impact on ways of working, relationships between library teams and the wider organisation, as well as librarianship as a profession.

Research interests

Academic libraries, management of libraries, organisational structures, research support, restructuring, professional identity


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