Staff and students at King's College London fear that the institution's £30 million new library will mean possible redundancies and has already led to slashed book budgets, writes Cherry Canovan.
The book-buying budget was cut by per cent for the academic year 2000-01 and may not return to normal levels for four years. Staff say that some of the college's smaller libraries may close, possibly leading to job cuts.
Chris Piper, president of King's student union, said the library was in danger of being "a big white elephant with no books".
He said: "There is a reduced stock of new books and it is a lot harder to get books out."
Students said many journal subscriptions had been cancelled, although the college said the periodicals budget had been increased by 11 per cent.
Richard Osborne, president of the Association of University Teachers at King's, fears that staff jobs might be lost. He said: "(The college is) centralising library services. The new library will be open towards the end of the year, and rationalisation negotiations will be in the course of the following year."
But a college spokesman said the library, to be housed in the former Public Record Office in Chancery Lane, was "magnificent".
He said: "This is a major development and the college has put large resources into its estate... It is true that our library budget is probably one of the lesser of the Russell Group in the short term, but inevitably there has been prioritisation.
"There is no direct correlation between opening Chancery Lane and staff cuts. When new buildings open and others close there is a question of fitting people in and discussing with staff where they are going."