Library makes positive moves, needs funding to make even more

Mike Davies, Editor-in-Chief  Ω

Mike Davies, Editor-in-Chief

Mike Davies, Editor-in-Chief

As reported this week by Jessica Klymchuk, the TRU library has just introduced a new initiative regarding individual librarians now focusing on individual departments.

I completely approve of specialization like this.

While I worry about a few things — like the fact they have six librarians and the school has nine departments just under the umbrella of sciences, for example, and arts has 15 more — I feel that this is at least a step in the right direction when it comes to a more directed focus on providing research services to our students, and that is never a bad thing.

The bigger issue — and the one that could undermine and negate what I just said  — as also reported by Ms. Klymchuk this week, is the funding problem.

TRU spends only two per cent of its operating budget on its library system and comes in dead last in that department when compared to other universities that the university itself continues to compare itself to.

TRU is constantly saying they should receive governmental funding on an appropriate level to these other schools, for example, and has joined research councils and implemented systems to try to compete on equal footing for the almighty government dollar.

But when questioned about their library funding allocation, their response is that it’s not a fair comparison because we have different needs from those other schools.

“We have a research portfolio that is growing and that will translate to changes in our spending patterns,” VP Advancement Christopher Seguin is quoted as saying in the library funding story.

I, for one, look forward to seeing that funding reallocation, because as it sits right now, we have people waiting outside the library for it to open so they can access the resources they need and being kicked out at closing time long before they’re prepared for academic success.

According to the people who work there, we also have somewhere around just under half as many full-time employees (six) as comparable facilities (15 or so), and are cancelling services and subscriptions to digital services to keep other services available.

One of the services in question is the unlocking of the doors when students need them to be unlocked.

“We can only cut for so long until we start cutting into things that people are using, and that becomes a problem,” according to Kathy Gaynor, who has worked at the library since 1999.

I say the fact that people can’t get in when they’d like to means that they already have cut into things that people are using — and it already is a problem.

We’ll let you know if things are remedied once the budget model review is complete and next year’s fiscal budget comes out, but as Gaynor said, TRU is going to have to start getting serious about funding it’s library (where much research is done, after all) if it’s serious about realizing its research goals — one of which is receiving funding on par with these other schools it chooses to compare itself to, but doesn’t want others to do the same.

 

The fact that students can’t access the library when they want to might be an indicator that there’s a problem.