New report points to reduced staffing, neglected collections, technology delays
TORONTO, Dec. 6 /CNW/ - Ontario's university libraries appear to be bearing a sizeable share of the cuts as universities grapple with budget cutbacks. A new report, based on a questionnaire sent to Ontario's academic librarians, describes widespread staffing reductions, neglect of library collections, and delays in technology investments.
"Ontario's academic librarians are at the forefront of supporting students and faculty in their research and teaching, tending to extensive collections, and introducing new technology advances to keep up with the demands of the digital world," said Constance Adamson, an academic librarian at Queen's University and vice-president of Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA). "But librarians are telling us that the level of budget restraint and change being imposed are detrimental to the very foundations of our vibrant university libraries."
Key Highlights from the Report
- 70% of respondents report that workloads have increased over the past three years to meet an enrolment increase of 28,000 students accompanied by no discernible increase in the number of academic librarians.
- 71% report that universities are using staff attrition to reduce costs.
- 69% report that organizational change or restructuring had occurred in response to budget constraints, technology advancements and expanded student enrolment
- 67% report changes to collections practices to reduce costs.
- 49% report delays in much needed technology investments.
- 40% disagree that their library has a clear long-term purpose and strategy.
"Our librarians report that the changes being instituted are having adverse impacts on workload, collegiality, and the credibility of senior managers," said Adamson. "Unfortunately, there has been a shift toward top-down management and away from collegial decision-making. This unilateral style erodes trust and confidence, while it raises doubts about the long-term direction of university libraries."
OCUFA invited Ontario academic librarians to respond to an on-line questionnaire. The questionnaire asked about a range of issues affecting university libraries, including organizational restructuring, budget impacts, and service changes. Over 200 responses, from all Ontario universities, and representing a response rate in excess of 30 per cent, were received between September 13 and October 12, 2010.
Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 16,000 faculty and academic librarians in 26 faculty associations across Ontario. For more information, please visit the OCUFA website at http://www.ocufa.on.ca.
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