The Report of the McMaster University Library Review Team has been released, and is now publicly available.
MUALA has reviewed the report and views it as a general framework for moving forward in a positive manner. Prior to the external review,MUALA had little faith in the process given the issues we outlined regarding the review. We believe that the review is too lavish in its praise of the University Librarian and does not adequately acknowledge his negative impact. Given the imminent departure of the University Librarian, MUALA hopes that the interim University Librarian and University Library administration will act upon the recommendations raised in the report. To do so would be a major and welcome step forward in redressing neglected core service functions to their previous levels, and improving labour relations between the University and MUALA. Furthermore, we request that the university create and share a timeline about how and when the recommendations raised in the Report of the McMaster University Library Review Team will be implemented.
MUALA would like to highlight some key recommendations from the report that we consider as priorities:
“A budget audit that identifies how allocations are currently being made.”
MUALA recommended, in our submission to the University Library Review Team, that a forensic audit of the library be conducted. In the absence of a forensic audit, we request that the university proceed with the audit recommended by the External Review Team, and that the audit be carried out in an open and transparent manner.
New University Librarian
“The new University Librarian should be an individual with outstanding communication skills as well as visionary leadership.”
“The new library leadership team should focus on stabilization, change management and an organizational culture of consultation, engagement and transparency.”
We support these recommendations, and we request to be consulted with, and have representation at the table for the search and appointment of a new University Librarian.
“An audit of the staffing of the university library that benchmarks against a group of peer institutions with a view towards making available funding for a few key hires that would be part of a package to help a new University Librarian to get off to a good start.”
We believe that the University Library is severely understaffed with regard to librarian positions. None of the 8 librarians positions vacated in the last 24 months have been filled. It is clear that the review team agrees, “The most noticeably affected group is the librarians whose numbers have dipped too low.” We request that MUALA be involved with the staffing audit, and the interim administration work with MUALA in filling vacant positions.
“An audit of the use of space in the university library and the availability of study space throughout the campus with a view of aligning the needs of the students with the space available.”
MUALA agrees with the review team that, “at this point in the evolution of the university library, the use of space in the library [should] be more deliberate and fit in with larger institutional goals.” Moreover, we recommend a moratorium on space changes until the recommended space audit is completed.
“Regularly scheduled staff meetings and other regularly used forms of communication to make as transparent as possible how decisions are made and how resources are expended. This is especially critical in working with the librarians and the postdoctoral fellows.”
“A cooling off period of stability, rich communication and transparent action under an internally- appointed interim University Librarian drawn from the current leadership team.”
MUALA heartily endorses these recommendations. Good communication is at the heart of a healthy organization. Re-establishing open and transparent communication with staff would be a first step in addressing low morale in the University Library, and instigating positive change.
As stated above, MUALA views this the External Review Report as framework for moving forward. We trust that the interim University Librarian and University Library administration view it in the same manner and will use it as a bridge for positive change.