Letter from the University Librarian- Winter 2021

Dear Friends of the UCLA Library,

In a year that has been unlike any other, I am reminded of how fortunate I am to work with such a dedicated group of librarians and staff. Their commitment to student and faculty success has meant our campus community has maintained robust access to information and materials even under difficult conditions.  

While the Library’s quick pivot to remote learning magnifies our institutional vitality, there is a not so visible casualty of the pandemic – our student workforce. Over the last two decades, we have become increasingly dependent on student employees to support our work, particularly as inflation has cut into our operations budget. In the User Access Services area alone, during normal Library operations, we rely on about 164 students to provide patron services across seven libraries. That number now stands at 30 essential student workers as our physical buildings are required to remain closed. With the gloomy economic outlook, when we re-open we are at risk of having to reduce the number of students we’re able to employ, and this may trigger a reduction of Library hours and services.

 As one of the largest student employers, the Library takes the loss of student wages caused by the pandemic and budget cuts to heart. About a third of UCLA students come from low-income backgrounds and rely on their campus wages to fund their education. But having a job as a student means so much more than a paycheck. Students learn valuable job skills and find mentors in our staff and librarians who encourage them in their academic and future professional pursuits.

 To solve this challenge, the University Librarian’s Student Employee Fund was created to unite our community to help UCLA students continue to perform essential campus-based and remote work now, while we also plan ahead for our return to campus. I am thankful to all of you for your contributions to this new fund despite the obstacles that many of us have faced this year. Gifts like these help the Library flourish as we continue to move knowledge forward.

With warm regards,

 

 

Ginny Steel

Norman and Armena Powell University Librarian