An upcoming high-profile departure along with acquisition budget cuts has left the university’s library in a state of flux.
John Corlett, the university’s vice-president academic, has confirmed that Jane Duffy, dean of libraries since 2009, will be leaving the university in October to take up a new position at a different institution.
While Duffy herself declined to comment on her departure, Corlett was positive about the dean’s choice to move on to a new position.
Duffy spearheaded innovative projects to make better use of new technological advancements and electronic resources, as well as to provide students with improved study spaces and work areas.
A decanal search is underway to find a suitable candidate to replace Duffy.
“(Dean of libraries) is not the job it was even 10 years ago. It’s an immensely complex position,” said Corlett. “That’s why it’s important we find someone strong to do the job.”
Duffy’s decision to leave comes months after a public dispute with German Studies Chair Linda Dietrick regarding budget cuts to several programs at the university.
In March, Duffy sent a letter to the Winnipeg Free Press accusing Dietrick of holding a “self-serving” agenda after Dietrick raised concerns over the fate of the German Studies department.
Both Corlett and Dietrick maintain Duffy’s departure has nothing to do with this dispute.
“Jane Duffy and I have no issues between us,” Dietrick said. “She sent that letter ... in the heat of the moment and very quickly came to regret it. Feelings were very high at the time.”
Dietrick said she and Duffy have since made amends privately.
Acquisitions Budget Cut
Meanwhile, the library’s operating budget, available on the university website, has decreased slightly, from $3.7 million to $3.64 million.
While staff salaries have increased, the acquisitions budget has been cut from $1.25 million to $1.175 million, according to Corlett.
“It’s not necessarily the case that a drop in the acquisitions budget reflects a loss in acquisitions,” said Corlett.
“You can get the same bang for your buck with fewer bucks.”
Electronic resources like ebooks are becoming cheaper to obtain and Duffy has been able to negotiate good deals on books this year, Corlett said.
“Given the operating budget and the incredible growth in demand for library services, we do incredibly well,” he said.
Rachel Hiebert, a second-year theatre and film student, agrees the library is a valuable resource for students, and uses it about three times every week.
“I use it for a quiet place to work - it’s a good place to research essays (and) it’s got a lot of books to find information,” she said.
While third-year education student Daniel Van Eerd doesn’t make use of the library’s physical information resources, he relies on electronic databases for information and research.
The drop in the acquisitions budget has both Hiebert and Van Eerd worried the library may not be able to maintain its standards as a resource in future years.
“While I don’t use the books themselves, I use the databases to a great extent, and if the budget is going down I can see that eventually affecting it,” said Van Eerd.
Published in Volume 67, Number 1 of The Uniter (September 5, 2012)