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Letter to VC and Chief Librarian

Published: 30th August, 2019

Letter sent from Leicester UCU to Acting Vice-Chancellor and the Chief Librarian re proposed cuts to library budget, 30 August 2019.

We write to express our alarm at the cuts to library information resources due to be introduced from the academic year. At more than half a million pounds (£547,624 is the figure we have received) these cuts are swingeing. We have no doubt that, if not reversed, they will do serious damage to the University of Leicester. During your tenure as acting vice-chancellor, you have insisted that ‘we’ must improve ‘our performance’ across every aspect of our activities, including research and teaching.

Yet, these cuts – if implemented – will undermine our ability to ‘perform’ in both these areas. It shouldn’t be necessary to spell this out, but access to the latest research – which may be published in journals or monographs – is absolutely essential if scholars at the University of Leicester are to make our own contributions to this research – if, indeed, we are to live up to our claim to be a ‘research-intensive university’. 

Spending on books and journals – and again we shouldn’t need to have to say this – is also essential to support high-quality and innovative teaching and to allow our students to follow their own interests and fulfill their potential. 

We also note two other point. First, these planned cuts fall disproportionately on the College of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities, in which library resources form the essential basis for most of our intellectual endeavours. Second, cuts to the library budget risk wrecking attempts colleagues are making to tackle major challenges. Examples that spring to mind include in our teaching and research on the Anthropocene/mass extinction, and efforts to decolonise the curriculum – areas in which the library’s collection is currently inadequate.

We are aware that the institution’s financial position is not considered ‘healthy’. But we also know that you and the senior management team retain choices: for instance, you recently decided to recruit an additional member to this team to manage the REF process and expensive infrastructure projects continue. Deciding to attack one of the very pillars of scholarly activity – access to information – is a choice that threatens damage no amount of REF-management or new building can repair. We call on you to reconsider.