Today’s guest post on challenges in libraries comes from Cate Carlyle, the ILN Ambassador for Canada.
I manage the Curriculum Resource Centre (CRC) at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax Nova Scotia, a “university town” of 943,002 people (2015). The Mount is a medium sized institution and is one of 10 universities in the province of Nova Scotia. The center is open to all but mainly serves Child & Youth Study and Education students studying to become teachers, youth workers, and early childhood educators. We have an adjacent computer lab and a larger traditional space which houses our reference collection, picture books, curriculum documents, kits, teen fiction and group work spaces. While I have up to 6 part-time student assistants throughout the year, I am a full time staff of one with all that entails.
As with most libraries in Canada, of any sort, budget and cutbacks are a constant concern. The rising costs of eBooks and technology are not being matched by budgets that remain the same or are continuously reduced. With enrolment rates plummeting and tuition costs skyrocketing in Canada, there is much competition among universities that are all competing for those few precious tuition dollars. In this financial climate it is very important for both my position and the continued support of my center that I promote the value of the center, the relevancy and need for the collection and my value as a resource to both staff and students. With the current student reliance on the internet and Google for research, I struggle to remind staff and students that the library and librarians are needed now more than ever in order to conduct accurate, efficient, reliable research and provide relevant resources.
In order to ensure that my center is viewed as an asset I seek out and align with specific vocal partners on faculty who champion my work. I utilize social media to ensure the continued presence of the center in campus conversation (Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, webpages, blog postings). Each year I run student orientations, speak at staff meetings and organize professional development, social and fund-raising events which promote the center and its presence on campus. In order to make a difference in the wider issue of library advocacy across Canada I also advocate on behalf of my professional organization, the Atlantic Provinces Library Associations, as well as on the PD programming team for our national “Partnership Education institute”. It is important to me that we stick together as a profession and advocate for all libraries and information centers, regardless of type or location.
“Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much” Helen Keller
How do you deal with increasing demands on shrinking budgets? We’d love to hear about how you deal with these challenges, and other challenges that you face. You can discuss with your ILN partner or join in the wider conversation here in the comments or on Twitter or Facebook using #interlibnet.