Several authors in this collection refer to the development of team approaches as key to current and future learner support models, particularly in the context of new technologies. In this chapter, three professionals in different roles provide an insight into both the literature and the reality of such teams. Conditions for the further development of multi-professional teams are explored, as is the potential impact of working in such teams on roles and individuals. An in-depth case study from one HEI illustrates how roles and teams are evolving and how these changes are impacting on individuals and on curriculum design and delivery. This evolution of teams depicts a significant change agenda for professional cultures, skills and approaches.
This collection has explored the evolving roles of the academic librarian in what has been termed the new learning environment. Authors have touched upon the significance of collaboration and partnership, and the blurring of professional boundaries and identities. Emerging concepts of the ‘new academic team’ are now evident in the literature and could be key to our understanding of developing roles and professional practices. This chapter explores the concept of the new academic team and its relevance to HE and to library and information professionals. It also discusses perceived barriers and enhancers to the establishment and development of such teams. This is then illustrated by institutional case studies and the reality of working within such teams from an academic librarian perspective. The chapter also explores the frequently perceived divide between the different professional groups; this is ref lected in Figure 6.1 as an apocryphal tale. It should be stressed that while we are advocating the potential of the new academic team we are not simply presenting a one-dimensional, positive image of teams. Organizational contexts, and the purpose and function of the team in question, are all crucial.
Terminology and concepts
The term ‘new academic team’ was formally articulated in the report Building the New Academic Team (Association of University Teachers, 2001), which portrays an interesting snapshot of the changing contributions to higher education of an extremely diverse range of support staff. This report usefully identifies the existence of such groups, detailing the types of staff contributing to learning and teaching and their experiences of working in partnership with academics.