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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 38, Number 10. 22nd May 1975

The Library's Headaches

page 16

The Library's Headaches

Drawing of a book walking up and down stairs

The library is perhaps the most valuable asset to any university, especially if we could take example from the students I know at this university. They attend the library much more regularly than lectures. They read books more than they socialise in the union. They exercise their minds in the library more than they exercise their bodies in the gym. They queue at 8.30 am for the library to open but they roll up to lectures in dribs and drabs up to half an hour late. More people request reserved books than go and talk to their tutors. My point is not that they should be doing something else but that they see the value of the library and that it should become increasingly important as personal pursuit of study increases due to greater academic freedom. (I speak very generally here. I am well aware that ridiculous workloads do a great deal to destroy academic freedom). Now on the basis of this the library should be a primary concern for any university administration. This is the basic theme of this article which will become obvious in the following paragraphs.

Library Space

Rankine Brown was designed as a library building. The plan is for the library to expand to fill all of the building displacing various academic departments and classrooms which now exist in the building.

The library is expanding at the moment but it is not displacing other occupants of the building fast enough with the result that it is bursting at the seams. The periodicals section will simply have to have extra shelving space. The periodicals collection shelving ratio will be in excess of 100% by the end of 1975. It is therefore clear that it is now that a decision must be made on extra space. Now the clasrooms RB104-109 were designed to fulfill this purpose. It is quite obvious therefore that these rooms should be given to the library at the end of the year and until the completion of the von Zedlitz towers these classrooms could be replaced by temporary prefabs after the Cotton building construction huts are removed. These prefabs would not need to accomodate as many people as the Rankine Brown classrooms do as most present classes are very much smaller than the number these rooms can accomodate
  • Over the Christmas holidays the law library moved into the 6th floor of Rankine Brown simply because it had to move out of the shaky Hunter building but the Prof. Board decided in 1973 that 'it be reaffirmed that beginning with the completion of the Cotton stage 1 in 1974/1975 and concluding with the completion of the von Zedlitz tower, floors 1 and 6 of Rankine Brown will be handed over to the library'. Now without floor 6 the main book collection will have a shelving ratio in excess of 100% by the end of 1976. So the Prof. Board must be urged to honour its agreement by the beginning of 1977 even though the movement of the Law library was due to the unforseen Hunter problem. The Law faculty wants to be reunified somewhere else in a permanent building anyway.
  • The staff club is located on floor 3 of the library building and uses up a sizeable portion of potential library space. The university council decided to have it removed to two houses adjacent the centre of the campus when these houses become vacant when von Zedlitz is up.
  • To make the situation more serious, recently the library has become an official United Nations depository which necessitates the setting up of a documents room, where documents are kept before binding and shelving.
  • The problems of the classrooms on floor 1 and the staff club on floor 3 are easily solved and as such should be quickly dealt with. But to prevent what the library committee describes as a crisis situation in 1978/79, longer term planning must immediately begin to either allocate space for a permanent Law library elsewhere or to provide for alternative accommodation for the Applied Maths Division which now occupies floor 7. Since the council has already committed itself to allowing the library expansion into other parts of the building before a crisis situation is met it must treat this problem as a primary concern and it must treat it as a separate issue from that of the long term building programme in order to deal with it before it is too late. It would be a shocking thing to have to resort to off-campus storage of books, for instance.

The Library Budget

The library has another major headache, that of an insufficient budget. This year the library wanted a 26% increase to the book budget but it got given 12½% ($30,000) by the council. This barely covers inflation. This is particularly bad when the library was commencing the year with a $40,000 overdraft.

The staff budget is no better. The library asked for 3 extra positions (2 full-time and 1 part-time), but the council only provided enough money for 1 part-time person to become a full-time worker. As a result of this the librarian considers that the technical services may get by but the public services will not. If the present set-up continues they will just be unable to continue the good service to the public. It has been decided therefore to reallocate a certain amount of the work. This is being done by saving 30 man-hours a week in the circulation department — a saving of $ 1,100 a year. This means that they are ceasing to issue books between 8.30am and 9.00am and after 9.00pm. They will also cut out issuing on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. This won't affect closed reserve or three-day loan books however. They have also decided to reduce the manning of the periodicals department.

At the last library committee meeting a request was made by the Law faculty club to provide an entrance to the Law library on floor 6 from the South stairway and lifts. This would require a checkout counter and someone to man it. This proposal is highly desirable and logical. It would mean that the Law library could expand its opening hours and the Law students wouldn't have to go through the main library and use one lift or one set of stairs (this lift doesn't stop at floor 6 anyway). The inclusion of the proposed entrance would therefore make all library facilities much more accessible to everyone. However even though everyone at the meeting agreed that the outside entrance to the Law library was a good idea, it just simply could not be done due to the lack of money available.

It is clear that in future the council must recognise the value of the library to a greater extent by allocating it a much larger grant, and, it must ensure that the Library is able to continue its expansion by providing it with the necessary space.