Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Vexed, terribly vexed (on mergers, libraries, and mismanagement)

As of this semester, graduate students at RBU have had their library borrowing reduced to the undergraduate length of 4 weeks, where they previously could check books out for 16 weeks with one online renewal (making a whole academic year). Yes, that's right -- someone writing a thesis or a seminar paper on a literary text for which the scholarly edition is a library-bound, out-of-print behemoth can only have it for an initial period for 4 weeks. Now, they can renew it four times online, but then they have to remember to do that, because once it's overdue, they have to bring it in. And they have to return it after 4 renewals and re-check it out if they still need it.

And why was this idiotic change made? The librarians told the grad students that it was because that's the way the medical library does it -- the one belonging to the med school with which we merged two years ago. (Books? What are books? Doesn't everyone use journals, and mostly electronic copies of them?) And for some strange reason, all of our units and campus have to do things in exactly the same way -- even if there's no savings of time or money, even if there's a great loss of time in switching over.

The library issue sounds like a little thing, I know, but it's been one thing after another for the last two years, especially in the last year, and it starts to add up. This is typical of the way things go around here. Everything has to change to the way the med school does it (because the med school's former president is now the university's president), even if it makes absolutely no sense for anyone else or significant portions of the rest of the university (which, btw, is a heck of a lot bigger!). And no one bothers to find out that they way they do things isn't some obvious, universally applicable, common sense way, but rather a practice with a history and culture tied to medicine and medical schools and at best alien to the rest of us, and at worst actually a problem for the way we need to work. Next thing you know we'll all have to wear lab coats of different lengths signifying our status. Don't laugh. I wouldn't be surprised.


Bardiac said...

Let's just hope you don't have to start leading dissections!

I'm sorry for the stupid you're dealing with. I can say, though, that reading about your school makes me appreciate mine a whole lot more!

Anonymous said...

You mean you all haven't gotten rid of that guy yet?

He sounds to me like the kind of person who would say he has Liberal Arts policy experience because he can actually see that department from part of his office.

In the place where I went to grad school, the library had it's own dean and was striving for quasi-independence from the university. It didn't make sense to me at the time. But, it does now.

Dr. Virago said...

Bardiac - Hey, glad we're of *some* service. Seriously, our school *should* be more like *yours*! Sigh.

Meteechart -- I have no idea who you are but I *love* you! Oh man, your joke is so funny in so many ways!...And our library *does* have a dean, but he's also dean of academic support and distance learning, a combination which was created, I believe, after the merger, which tells you something. Though I could be wrong about that.

Dr. Virago said...

Meteechart - I mean, btw, that I don't know who you are in real life, of course, not in the blogosphere.

Susan said...

But your faithful readers will chip in for the lab coat :)

Anonymous said...

Don't worry, I knew what you meant.

Anyway, consider it an open invitation: if you ever find yourself in DC, feel free to email me (address is on my blog), and I'll do my best to see if I can think of more than one joke that someone other than me thinks is funny.

JLH said...

wtf!!? Sounds like the prep school (high school) where I'm the nominal l and recently somewhat marginalized "librarian." Love your blog.