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Health Sciences Library to be consolidated, could see layoffs

Will merge with UNC Libraries

Two UNC library systems will soon be consolidated — and layoffs could be on the way.

Starting April 1, the Health Sciences Library will be run through the main University Libraries system. The health library is currently independent.

The two departments will then work to combine services and lower costs, according to a letter sent to deans Friday. Layoffs are likely, interim provost Bruce Carney said in an interview.

The changes are part of the cost-cutting and consolidating measures taken as a response to the Bain & Co. study last year. The consulting firm reported that UNC’s bureaucracy is too complex.

“It makes more sense to have one librarian in charge than two,” Carney said.

“It’s just time to take a look at how we do things.”

The first change is organizational. The Health Sciences Library director will report to the University librarian. Both had reported to the provost’s office.

University Librarian Sarah Michalak will then represent all of the campus libraries, excluding the law library.

Carol Jenkins, who has been Health Sciences Library director since 1986, said she didn’t know what changes were going to take place, but that they shouldn’t be noticeable to library patrons.

She said she has worked with Michalak and University Libraries before, coordinating which libraries would maintain copies of particular books and journals.

“We’ve worked together before and very collegially,” Jenkins said.

“While people may tend to see this as negative because of the cost-cutting, we’re using it as an opportunity.”

In 2007-08, University Libraries had an annual budget of $45.4 million. More than half of that went to wages and salaries, supporting about 250 professional staff members and 400 student employees.

The Health Sciences Library’s annual budget is about $8 million, and the library has about 70 full-time employees.

Mary Beth Allen, associate professor of library administration at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said her campus library system has also had a movement toward consolidating services.

She said libraries have cut down on duplication of material and that some smaller divisions have closed or gone online-only.

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