Librarians ready to fight cutbacks

March 29, 1996

Library staff members of the Association of University Teachers are to campaign against further Government cuts in the face of what they described as "savage cuts" to university library funding.

Members at the annual meeting of AUT library staff last week resolved to campaign vigorously in the face of evidence showing that book spend per student in old universities had fallen from Pounds 56 in 1989/90 to Pounds 45 in 1993/94.

The librarians say that the university funding cuts for next year will have a disastrous effect on libraries which have experienced a per cent rise in the numbers of students per each professional member from 1989/90 to 1993/94.

Michael Leat, chairman of the AUT's library staff committee and representing 1,000 members in the old universities, said: "At the end of the day it is the students we are short-changing." Libraries were unable to buy sufficient copies of standard text books and in some cases, periodical purchases had been badly hit.

The AUT fears that many of the recommendations made by the influential and widely praised Follett report will fail to materialise. The librarians intend to make their particular concerns known during the AUT's general day of action scheduled for the end of June.

* Public libraries hold the key to creating a society of lifelong learners but only if there is sufficient Government investment, a new document says.

The Library Association says that Britain's 5,000 or so libraries are best placed to become centres providing support for the sort of continuous learning opportunities envisaged by the Government's Lifetime Learning consultation paper published last November. The association believes, however, that the Government overlooked libraries in its consultation document.

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