BY JEREMY WARREN
Four of seven University of Saskatchewan libraries will likely close as part of the TransformUS cost-cutting program.
New details about the budget-slashing measures are included in a group of “project brief ” documents on the university’s website. Another brief proposes the amalgamation of women’s and gender studies, philosophy, modern languages and religion and culture departments in the College of Arts and Science.
The plan for library services on campus includes closing libraries in the education, law, and engineering colleges and in the Western College of Veterinary Medicine.
The brief says the university will move some collections into remote storage and could expand study space in the remaining libraries.
In addition to expected job losses, the closures will save about $730,000 annually, according to the project brief. The University Library has an annual budget of about $24 million.
“At the end of the day, we’ll have very effective and efficientservices for our students,” acting library dean Ken Ladd said.
It’s too early to say how many jobs will be cut during the process because “there’s a lot to be determined yet,” Ladd said.
The university is still exploring how to best use the space left behind by the libraries that close, Ladd added. Collections and services will be consolidated into the Murray Library, the Leslie and Irene Dube Health Sciences Library and the Science Library, and their operating hours could be expanded.
Some of the consolidated print collection will be moved into remote storage, elsewhere on campus or to an off-campus facility, something more universities are doing across Canada, Ladd said. Students are increasingly using electronic resources instead of print resources, but the university is not planning any large reductions in its print collection, he added.
Last week, the U of S released a plan for TransformUS, which aims to cut $25.3 million in annual expenses to help avoid a $44.5-million deficit in 2016. The plan calls for job cuts at the senior administration level and the elimination or consolidation of programs and services, although some details are not yet known. University officials argue the U of S will be a stronger institution when the process is done.
In the College of Arts and Science, TransformUS will likely merge women’s and gender studies, philosophy, modern languages and religion and culture programs into a new department. Those departments feature popular classes, but few people graduate with degrees from the departments, arts and science dean Peter Stoicheff said.
He said he doesn’t see the changes as cutting programs, but rather building a new department that retains popular classes from the shuttered departments.
“This is a building project, not a diminishing project,” Stoichef f said.
Bachelor of fine arts programs, such as drama, will not be changed, he added.
The program cuts, along with other changes in the college, will not mean staff and faculty reductions, Stoicheff said. Twenty-four faculty members took buyouts this year and they will not be replaced, which accounts for the college’s contribution to cost savings, he said. Faculty could be added once the university decides where to spend its planned $5-million investment in programs at the end of TransformUS.
The college will also likely offer fewer three-year degree options. Some three-year options will remain to cater to students looking to move into the education and law colleges, Stoicheff said. (THE STARPHOENIX)