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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 33 No. 12. 5 August 1970

Departmental Libraries

Departmental Libraries


For nearly two years the subject of class and departmental libraries has been tossed around among subcommittees of the Professorial Board and Science Faculty Executive. A decision on the proposed Biological Sciences Library in the new Biology extension is being sought at the next meeting of the Professorial Board.

The University Librarian (Mr Sage) and other library administrators are pressing for centralisation of library resources and facilities. The Botany and Zoology Departments want decentralisation of facilities, with publications used in teaching and research conveniently located within the Departments.

At first sight this would not seem to be an issue which involves students, but policies formed at this stage will greatly affect how students use the Library, and what facilities are available. All must know of the financial 'trauma' of the Library, and the increasing pressure on space. Full departmental support, not fragmentation of the Library's facilities, is needed if the problems are to be solved.

The proposed Biological Sciences Library will provide seats for only 28 staff and students. This is clearly inadequate, even if Stage I students are banned from the Library (as at Auckland), and falls far short of the University Grants Committee provision of 1 seat for 4 students. Nor could the library be open for as many hours as the present library in Rankine Brown.

Perhaps more important is the problem of duplication. Most important biological information is published in books or periodicals also of value to students of other departments. Either these must be kept in the Rankine Brown Building (and the biological collection split) or duplicate copies must be bought. If duplicates are purchased the overall diversity is lowered under a fixed budget—this is obviously undesirable.

The original proposal for a Biological Sciences Library was unworkable because of spatial problems. Student representatives on the Library Advisory Committee oppose even the reduced library now planned for the above reasons and because biological publications will be split between the two libraries with resultant confusion. The alternative to the Biological Sciences Library is a Science Library in the Rankine Brown Building consisting of a whole floor with books and periodicals integrated. The student representatives strongly support this plan because it will provide better seating, longer hours of opening, and a greater range of books and periodicals. Unfortunately there is every chance that the staff pressures in the Biology Departments will cause them to opt out of this scheme into one designed for staff and research workers at the expense of undergraduates.

J.A. Bartle