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Weldon fails grade
By Wes Brown
A new study has shown Western's library system and Canadian libraries in general, have fallen further down the list in terms of the overall quality of their systems.
Jim Turk, executive director for the Canadian Association of University Teachers, said a study done by the Association of Research Libraries showed that with the exception of the University of Toronto, all Canadian universities have slipped substantially in their North American standing.
"Universities are facing massive cuts in funding," he said. "As a result, class sizes get bigger and faculties get smaller. One of the squeezes has been libraries in terms of cut backs to staff, periodicals and journals," Turk added.
Joyce Garnett, director of libraries and chief librarian at Western, said Western's drop from 55th on the continent to 83rd, has come as a direct result of underfunding.
"The components of the study are a weighted calculation of the number of volumes on hand, number of new volumes, journals, expenditures and staffing. All of them are directly related to money," she said.
Turk said Canadian universities tend to be grouped at the bottom of the list, adding the cuts facing libraries are extremely damaging. "Universities rely on the resources of the library to have the supplies their staff and students need," he said. "The top overall universities in North America are right at the top of the list of library holdings as well. Harvard, Yale and Berkeley are one, two and three."
Garnett said while the money percentage allocated to the libraries on campus has not gone down, the operating budget that the university has to work with has been consistently shrinking.
"We haven't been punished within the university, it's just that the pie is getting smaller. All of the departments have faced this sort of thing," she said.
Media spokesperson for the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, David Ross said, in the end it is the university Board of Governors who decide on where money is allocated.
"It is within the specific universities that all decisions for funding are done. Whether it goes to libraries or general maintenance, it would have to be done by the board," Ross said.