AU Library will merge with the Royal Library on 1 July
At its meeting on 5 April, AU's board adopted the proposal to make AU Library part of the Royal Library.
Before the meeting the senior management team had prepared the ground for the board to push through the recommendation at its meeting on Wednesday 5 April, and to make AU Library part of the Royal Library. The board duly adopted the recommendation, and the library functions at AU will thus transfer to the Royal Library from 1 July of this year.
The merger was initially on the agenda at a board meeting in December 2016, though the board concluded that they wished for further clarification of the matter before making a final decision. Since then the matter has been submitted for consultation at the faculties and among the employees at AU Library.
What about the ‘proximity principle’?
In their consultation responses, the faculties stated that the management’s basis for decision had not been sufficiently thorough in describing what a merger would specifically mean for the level of service. Here there was particular concern about the consequences for the ‘principle of proximity’ between the library staff, researchers and students at AU. This has also been one of the biggest concerns for the 85 AU library staff in question. In addition, the faculties wished to know about the options that AU has if the Royal library does not deliver the service specified by the agreement between the parties in connection with the merger.
The senior management team has listened – and provided clarification.
On the basis of the consultation responses, the senior management team has clarified the agreement with the Royal Library in three areas. AU must continue to have "final influence on the priorities relating to service level and the quality of the services provided by the Royal Library". Additional clarification states that “the parties support the principal of proximity on a daily basis between researchers, students and the library staff". And thirdly, the agreement now states that the university may terminate the agreement if it the collaboration fails to function satisfactorily.
At the meeting, University Director Arnold Boon indicated that the agreement will ensure a continuing good local library service for researchers and students at AU. At the same time, it will ensure that the library functions are rooted in an organisation that has sufficient strength to engage in negotiations with powerful publishers and the like. Furthermore, with the merger the library service at AU will be an integrated part of the national digital development in library services.
Ought to be a core service for a university
The librarians at AU do not have a joint union representative. Anna Mette Morthorst, who is union representative for the librarians at Aarhus BSS, has therefore acted as a liaison between librarians and management in the process up to the now finalised merger. She had decided to follow the process to its conclusion by being present at the board meeting in the Frandsensalen in the Rector's Office, and after the meeting she said:
"As the employees have pointed out, AU Library ought to be a core service for the university and should have remained part of AU so we could gain the best possible academic synergies, as well as the best possible future solutions for the area, in a close dialogue with researchers and students. That’s not what’s happened, but we of course take the decision into consideration."
"Now it’s time to look ahead and work to ensure that this change has as little effect as possible on both employees and users. We therefore hope that the management at AU will be particularly mindful of AU Library, and will continue to involve us when new services need to be developed at AU."