By Shannah Cotton, Editor
Due to an overwhelming budget gap for the coming fiscal school year, the Presidents council of the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) has been working since last September to find more than $ 2.5 million dollars in the current budget through 18 position eliminations, 15 of which had no one in them. Out of the three filled positions, Frank Roberts, former Director of the Library and UMF employee for the past 17 ½ years, was given a three day notice before job elimination.
President Kathryn Foster made it known that the reasoning behind all cuts were with the budget gap and the future of the university in mind. “It is a careful budget, it is a deliberate budget, but it is a tough budget,” said Foster. “A loss of one person is a loss to us all. It’s really difficult to go through this. However it was necessary.”
Roberts, who is currently looking and waiting for job opportunities, tried to see the situation from all angles.“I completely understand the University needing to save money. I fully understand if they want to make change. But you treat people well, especially after 17 ½ years of service, and I didn’t feel it was handled very well” said Roberts.
Bryce Cundick, Library Information Services Manager and a former colleague of Roberts’s said “Clearly when you go from having one director to having no director, something has to change.”
The future changes of the library are currently being headed by Fred Brittain who is Executive Director for Innovation Campus Technology and Strategy .“The type of work that a library has been doing has been changing over the last 20 years,” said Brittain. “There’s a shift in the kind of direction and the services that people are looking for.”
The library is looking into collaboration with the Learning Assistance Center and Information Technology (IT). As of now the plan is to move tutoring into the library. The writing center and math clinic will take place in the library most likely, as well as the help desk from the computer center. This will hopefully create an “academic hub on campus” as said by President Foster.
Brittain, who has worked at UMF since 1994, said “I am working with the librarians to rebuild what is a management structure in an approach to how they work.”
The library is currently open for 90 hours a week with a staffing of students and faculty every hour. “It is completely unnecessary, we think, for many of those hours to actually have employees and student workers to run the library. We are very interesting in having more student oversight of things around campus,” said Brittain. Approximately 24 hours of coverage by students only is the plan for next semester as of now. “That will reduce the amount of hours we have regular UMF employees there.”
The types of jobs for students on campus will also change with these coming plans. “We’re looking for a shift leader model for those hours that there isn’t a UMF employee on duty” said Brittain. This job will most likely require more responsibility and be paid more than the others.
The library has recently freed up space by getting rid of unused books, giving more room for student workers and study equipment to be brought in.
President Foster, speaking for the whole of the President’s Council said “We do believe that this positions us to be able to now invest in areas that better show our strengths to attract students.”
All future changes of the library are still in discussion mode. When the changes become definite more information will be available to UMF students and faculty.