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UBC Publications

UBC Publications

UBC Library News Feb 28, 1983

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 ubc library news
new series no. 5/february 1983
Doug Mclnnes was named University Librarian in June 1982. A few weeks ago the Editor of
the Library staff newsletter asked him about the Library's present situation and future
prospects. Here are some excerpts from his response.
I believe that UBC has a good library system, though because of the number of its
branches and the complexity of the Main Library building it is also a costly system to
operate. Clearly, the Library's real strength lies in its rich collections and in the
expertise of its staff. In comparison with many research libraries, the UBC Library is
quite young; it has nevertheless developed collections of international importance,
thanks to the priority given over the years to maintaining collections funding even in
difficult times and to the dedication of those faculty and library staff members who
have worked to build collections of lasting importance. In particular, the breadth and
depth of our serial and microform collections are remarkable, even among very large
We also have in good measure the other ingredient essential to a strong research
library: people with the knowledge, skills and desire to make the Library a vital part of
the University's teaching and research programs. The UBC Library has a tradition of
good service. This is often difficult to maintain in a large system, with the pressures of
heavy use and shortages of funds, not to mention the inherent tendency of large
organizations to become impersonal in their relations with those they serve. In my
view, the truly memorable characteristic of this library comes from the extra effort
that so many staff members make to satisfy individual library users.
The most serious weaknesses of the present library are its inadequate physical plant and
the lack of funding to proceed with a more systematic transition to the use of new
technology. In many parts of the Library, the shortage of space for collections and
patrons is already critical. Equally frustrating is our inability to reorganize the space
we do have so that collections and services can be used more efficiently.
The Library's small systems staff has developed outstanding computer support systems
for housekeeping and records control. At this point, however, I can think of nothing
that would improve services more than the capital funding and other resources needed
to take the next step: to bring the multiplicity of records together in a unified system,
allowing patrons and staff to determine quickly and easily what we have, where it is,
and if necessary, to request it for use.
Although we spend at least half of our collections budget on serial publications each
year and have a strong serials collection, we still get many complaints about the
unavailability of current periodicals. We must give some priority to finding ways of
improving access to current periodical literature. Reductions in the number of
duplicate subscriptions, together with increased emphasis on journal articles in many
undergraduate courses, have made this perennial problem more acute. No simple
answer will suffice: to make any real improvement we will have to review loan
policies, procedures for handling and binding serials, physical arrangements for housing
current issues, and staff requirements to keep issues in good order on the shelves.
OO As soon as possible, Library space requirements must be reviewed, updating figures used
as the basis for the 1980 proposal for a new central library building. It would make
good sense in the present financial climate to examine alternative plans that could
offer more immediate relief to the Library's most critical space problems.
At this time no one can predict the effect that economic constraints may have on
future library services. In 1982/83 the Library was obliged to make substantial staff
reductions, the most noticeable effect of which was the closure of the Ecology Library
as a branch and the elimination of the Reading Rooms Division. Both steps represented
real reductions in service, affecting people in the Library and in many faculty
departments. On the positive side, collections funding was maintained in 1982/83 at a
higher level than anticipated. The Library also opened two new branch libraries (the
Health Sciences Library at St. Paul's Hospital and the Hamber Library in the
Children's/Grace/Shaughnessy hospital complex), a health sciences networking service,
and assumed responsibility for the Film Library and the Centre for Human Settlements
A/V Library.
I hope that the Library can renew and strengthen its contact with faculty departments.
Close relationships and good communication will be essential if the Library is to serve
its community adequately in the next few years.
Since the appointment of Doug Mclnnes as University Librarian there have been several
changes in the allocation of duties among the five other people who form the Library
The Associate Librarian, Bill Bell, retired at the end of June 1982, and because of
retrenchment, the Library has not been able to fill his position. His responsibilities are being
shared by two other members of the administration. Bob MacDonald, in addition to his duties
as Assistant Librarian for Technical Processing and Systems, oversees the planning and
management of the Library's budget. Erik de Bruijn, the Assistant Librarian for
Administrative Services, is responsible for the Library's personnel services and labour relations
for professional as well as for non-professional staff.
Responsibility for the Library's public services has been divided between two people. Heather
Keate, formerly the Deputy Biomedical Librarian, will supervise circulation, reference, and
information services in the branch libraries, excepting Mathematics, Sedgewick, and the
Wilson Recordings Collection. Bill Watson retains these responsibilities for the central
libraries (Main and Sedgewick), for Mathematics and Wilson, and for the time being Crane, the
Curriculum Laboratory, and Asian Studies.
Tony Jeffreys coordinates the development of the Library's collections and manages the
expenditure and allocation of the collections budget.
The position of Assistant Librarian for Physical Planning and Development, formerly held by
Bill Watson, will not be filled for the time being.
Editor: Joan Sandilands/Information & Orientation Division University of British Columbia Library
issn 0382-0661


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