Short-sighted Soas

October 14, 2005

Staff at the School of Oriental and African Studies are distressed about two senior subject-librarians (Sue Small and Fujiko Kobayashi) being made redundant and two others under threat. These redundancies mean a downgrading of expert knowledge and skills to "library-assistant" level.

Librarians now at Soas will not be able to envisage a career where they will one day become "academic-related" librarians. Who will want to work or remain here if they are stuck at a lower level?

This is bad news for new librarians and those working to become better librarians. We know academic librarianship is not well paid, but we believe in it. When people are not accorded their due, it will be hard to find good librarians and nurture them until they become great librarians.

New librarians will not be able to learn the ropes as well from people who lack regional expertise. And students and academics will not be able to trust that they are getting the best expertise. It is a most sad destruction.

Anne Poulson, the librarian, has yet to justify these redundancies to Soas staff and how they accord with her position at the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, a body that works to safeguard library professionals and their careers.

Jane Phillipson, Colin Rennie, Peter Salinger, Yoshiko Yasumura, Chris Gutkind and six other professional librarians

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