27 June 2013

A small reflection on budget news

Today, I sent an email to my library team. It's full of questions; I am sure the answers will start coming soon too. Slightly edited, here it is:

Last night, I went to bed thinking about cuts: additional £11,5 billion the government shaves off the public sector (1/2 billion will come off education, i.e. you and me) and – I have been told – £xx,000 of our college library budget (after licences, travel and photocopying, this means the “book budget” will be half of what we’ve had this year).

Next year will not be disastrous for the service – we’ll be leveraging on the collection built in previous years. However, we’ll have to cut magazine subscriptions and purchasing (e)books straight away.

The service will eventually become irrelevant *if we continue focusing mainly on providing learning resources* – we’ll have not enough them to satisfy the demand anyway + I think, in the situation of very limited resources, mass unemployment (i.e. many students will not be able to afford even a textbook already costing almost half of the weekly jobseeker’s allowance) etc., teaching will be moving towards freely available resources, printouts, handouts on Moodle etc.

I am both sad with the cuts and hopeful that this will prompt us, the library team, to a radical reflection. We should spend some time thinking where the future for the library service in the college may be. Here is a blog post which has stayed with me for over a month now - http://philbradley.typepad.com/phil_bradleys_weblog/2013/05/envisioning-the-future.html Please look through it – long; read carefully the last three paragraphs. It’s talking about public libraries, but many thoughts are applicable to us as well.

The college’s mission is Transforming Lives and Unlocking Potential (I hope I remember it well) – how can the library, i.e. us, the team, be in the centre of that?

So, we need lots of creative thinking, engaged talking, supporting each other and going an extra mile where it makes sense (as well as surrendering anything that is just unnecessary balance).

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