Thursday, April 5, 2007

Closure of Two University Libraries

So, there was a notice sent out to a select number of students (and I have no idea which ones), saying that the Math and MacMillan Library would be closed, as well as reduced hours in other libraries due to the budget shortage.

The official notice is posted behind the cut.

My problem as a Senator who sits on the Library Committee is the following:
It's the mandate of the committee to oversee the operations of the Libraries. We had not been informed of the budget cut, nor the closures, nor the reduced hours of the Libraries.

As a result, I am concerned to which extent the Senate is involved in the academic governance of the University. No one could argue that the libraries aren't a key element of the academic life in an institution such as ours.

I am also concerned about the manifestations of the budget reductions - what this would mean for the study spaces for students, access to resources for the community, and whether the extended hours project during exams will continue, as it may now cost additional costs to supplement any "normal" hours which have been reduced.

Subject: Closure of the MacMillan Library

UBC Library and the University are facing serious budgetary reductions, and some difficult choices have had to be made. The Library's reduction is $1.6 million for 2007-2008, with the strong possibility of further reductions the following year. The Library is unable to continue to sustain the current number of branches. As well, the work of the library is changing, for the most part we are set up as a print-based operation, however; more and more of our resources are electronic. The Library is looking for ways to continue the reference, instruction and collections within the changing use of the libraries and with the limited resources in both staff and budget. To be viable in the future, we need to carefully resource our libraries and ensure that we have the staffing components needed to meet the users' needs. As a result, UBC Library has decided to close MacMillan and Math Libraries by the end of August 2007. We are also reducing hours of operation at other branches and are reducing staff through retirements and not filling vacancies, wherever possible. This was not an easy decision, yet it was a necessary one for UBC Library to make. Dr. Peter Ward, University Librarian, pro tem and the UBC Library are committed to ensuring that the service to the faculty, students and other users of the MacMillan Library is maintained. The service will continue as before, except from a different location. There will still be the full complement of service - reference & instruction, library orientation, print collections and e-resources, reserve collections, etc. for all the faculties and students currently served by the MacMillan Library. There will continue to be professional librarians to do the full suite of liaison and course development work and support staff will continue to process collections and materials. There will continue to be a collections budget for books, journals and e-resources for MacMillan, although as part of the budget reductions, the overall library budget is also being reduced. The main change is that the collections will be moved. Majority of the collections will fit within the Woodward Biomedical Branch. Many of the subject areas currently housed in MacMillan overlap with other subject areas held in Woodward. Others, such as Landscape Architecture, will be a better fit with similar collection in IKBLC (Irving K. Barber Learning Centre). There may be some value to keeping some of the collections together, with others interfiling may be more useful to the students. We would like to have more discussion with faculty and students regarding these decisions. There is potential for increased in-class reference and instruction, as librarians will have added flexibility to go where students are located. In return, there will be a larger group of librarians for students and faculty visiting respective libraries. For example, Woodward librarians often team-teach and offer Library research workshops. UBC Library welcomes the opportunity to be as inclusive as possible regarding discussions about the relocation of MacMillan Library, as it is crucial that we keep users informed and hear about their requirements. We would like to work with faculty to find the best way to communicate with you and your students. The planning process for the MacMillan Library relocation is ongoing and we will continue to provide regular updates on developments. For questions and comments regarding the relocation of MacMillan Library, or to set up a meeting, please contact Rita Dahlie, Head, Woodward Biomedical Library, at 604-822-4970 or