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APLIC-I Conference 2000
Knowledge in the Digital Age: Preservation, Dissemination and Training

Breakout Session: What are the problems of working in small libraries e.g., increased work-loads, decreased funding?
By John Carlson University of Wisconsin-Madison
Center for Demography Information Services

Participants: Christopher Cahill (Harvard Center for Population & Development Studies), John Carlson (University of Wisconsin - Madison, Center for Demography Information Services), Gretl Cox (John Snow Inc.), Diane Fisher (University of Texas at Austin, Population Research Center Library), Pearl Johnson (University of Michigan, Population Studies Center) and Kay Willson (The Future's Group International).

Problems: As information service providers, the participants expressed a concern for the future of their collections and their ability to meet the demands of their users because of the impact of recent core grant renewals. Diane Fisher reported that two Librarians and a Library Assistant position have been cut from her Library as a result of the last couple of grant renewals and that she is employed for only thirty hours per week. John Carlson added that his center will have its professional staff reduced from 1 1/2 full-time employees to one, effective July 31, 2000 due to a recent grant reduction. A reduction in grant funding has also resulted in the removal of the census collection from the University of Texas-Austin library, where Diane Fisher works. Kay Willson added that her collection has also been reduced and that she has lost some physical space too. Gretl Cox also mentioned a loss of physical space due to an increase in the number of meetings being held in her Library and some concern over three contracts that were ending this year.

Solutions:There was a general consensus that services will be affected as a result of recent grant reduction or funding trends and that we as information professionals must learn to prioritize our workload, consider cutting services, and become more assertive in our relationship with our governing bodies. As an example, Diane Fisher indicated that she considered providing information as her first priority. Suggestions for coping due to budget and staff cuts included not handling reference requests from outside users, using a subscription vendor to handle journal subscriptions, non participation in the APLIC-I DUPS program, and the offsite storage of journals. There were conflicting views as to whether to let your users know the cost of services and to what extent faculty should be involved in weeding of any collection.

We may want to place this topic on the permanent breakout session list for the next few years if recent trends are any indication of the future.

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Last updated 04/25/01