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Library focus of major strategic investment

30 August 2005

Victoria Library focus of major strategic investment decision

Victoria University has unveiled plans for a major increase in investment in its library services to ensure it can meet its ambitious strategic goals for teaching, learning and research. From 2006 the Library budget for collections will grow by $1.5 million.

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Pat Walsh, said the University was committed to greater investment in library services. Further decisions on additional investment in extra staffing and improving access to electronic journals are also likely.

“Late last year the University adopted a new Strategic Plan that firmly positions Victoria as one of this country’s premier research-led universities. It wasn’t too great a leap to recognise that we needed the library resources to match that status.”

The University’s announcement is consistent with the recommendations of the recent Academic Audit, carried out by a panel established by the New Zealand Academic Audit Unit, that also emphasised the need to give priority to library resources in light of the new Strategic Plan objectives.

Professor Walsh said that Victoria has been addressing many historic areas of under investment through use of strategic financial reserves.

“Firstly, we recognised that as the heart of any university, the library had to be able to recover quickly from a major earthquake. Given Wellington’s predisposition for such events, we commissioned a significant seismic upgrade of the Rankine Brown Building, which is the home of the Central Library.

“Secondly, we’ve carried out a major survey of staff and students to ask them about the services and facilities they need. We had an overwhelming response of close to 4,000 replies and we’re analysing the data as part of adopting a new plan for the library.

“Yesterday the University Council agreed in principle to increase the 2006 library capital expenditure budget by a third, which will go a long way to establishing the library that will assist us in achieving our strategic objectives and position Victoria at the forefront of modern university libraries.”

Professor Walsh welcomed the Academic Audit panel’s report and said it was already in the process of adopting many of its other recommendations.

“The panel commended the University and its staff for the work on strengthening and enhancing Victoria’s programmes, infrastructure and finances since the year 2000 when we were last audited. It notes that we are ready to move from formulating policies to building the capacity to implement our new strategic goals.

“The panel praised the new facilities we have developed, particularly our Pipitea Campus in downtown Wellington, and how we have worked to address the challenges posed by moving to a multi-campus operation. It also commended our initiative in establishing our Māori faculty equivalent, Toihuarewa, and for providing Te Herenga Waka Marae as a place where Māori students can feel at home.

“The work of the University Teaching Development Centre in supporting best practice in teaching and learning and the development of our targeted student recruitment programmes and student learning support programmes were also praised.”

Professor Walsh said the panel had also indicated many areas where Victoria could further enhance its teaching, learning and decision-making processes.

“As with any audit, whenever a fresh set of eyes places your activities under the microscope they will inevitably find areas where improvements can be made. We welcome those recommendations and in many cases, the areas for improvement were suggestions we presented in our self-audit portfolio.

“In the last five years, we have turned around Victoria’s finances, seen student enrolments increase by 37 percent from 2000 to 2004 and completed a major capital works programme and merger with the Wellington College of Education. As enrolments are now levelling out, we have the opportunity to refocus on our core teaching and learning activities and this report will be of great assistance in doing just that.”

The audit is the third for Victoria University. The panel, which included leading New Zealand and overseas academics, was chaired by Professor Sylvia Rumball, Assistant to the Vice-Chancellor of Massey University. The Unit is an autonomous body established by the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee to monitor the academic performance of New Zealand’s eight universities.


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