Budget cutbacks announced in Libraries, Center for Professional Development

Stanford University Libraries and Academic Information Resources, the academic unit that oversees more than a dozen libraries, and the Stanford Center for Professional Development in the School of Engineering have announced 2010 budget cutbacks.

University Libraries announced Wednesday that it has laid off 32 employees. It also offered nine other staff members the option of being laid off and receiving severance benefits instead of staying in revamped positions at reduced pay or reduced hours.

The unit also announced plans to permanently close the Physics Library in the summer of 2010 and transfer its holdings to other locations, including the Engineering Library in the Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center—currently under construction—and the Stanford Auxiliary Library in Livermore.

Most of the affected employees were laid off Wednesday and will be eligible for the university's enhanced severance package, which expires June 30.

"This has been a challenging process and layoffs have been undertaken only after careful assessment of all budget options," said University Librarian Michael Keller.

"We greatly regret the need to lay off staff who have been dedicated to the library and its mission. However, the elimination of these positions will enable us to balance our budget. I am confident that we can weather the crisis, and we begin immediately the important task of revamping and rebuilding our organization."

All told, more than 60 library positions have been affected by layoffs, reassignments and other cost-cutting measures to meet the 2010 budget reduction mandated by the university.

University Libraries has also eliminated 26 vacant positions.

In addition to trimming its workforce, University Libraries has cut expenses by reducing the purchase of books, journals and online subscriptions; closing Green Library at 1 a.m.; eliminating patron outreach programs, including the semi-annual magazine Imprint; and eliminating most staff travel. It also decided to close the Physics Library, located in the Varian Building, after close consultation with the School of Engineering and the School of Humanities and Sciences, as well as the departments of Physics and Applied Physics.

Keller noted that the vast majority of the Physics Library's holdings are now available in digital formats. As a result, faculty and students are less reliant on its print collection.

"Given budget-mandated reductions in our staff, we determined this measure to be the most effective method of preserving student and faculty services and access to information resources," Keller said, adding that the move will provide much-needed space for the Physics Department.

Cutbacks at the Stanford Center for Professional Development

Andy DiPaolo, executive director of the Center for Professional Development and a senior associate dean in the School of Engineering, announced Tuesday that the center had laid off 11 employees—including four staff members who volunteered to leave—and reduced the work hours of three others.

"This difficult decision is a result of the economic downturn and its unprecedented impact on corporate support for the continuing education of technical professionals and managers," DiPaolo wrote in a June 9 memo to the center's staff.

He said the center "carefully and thoroughly analyzed each position relative to our long-term outlook and strategic position" and made decisions based on "thoughtful and lengthy deliberations."

Before the layoffs, the center employed about 50 full-time employees.

The center offers courses—on campus, at work sites and online—that allow qualified individuals to study for Master of Science degrees on a part-time basis, pursue graduate and professional certificates, take individual graduate or professional classes, and participate in workshops.

In recent months, enrollment numbers and revenue have fallen, leaving the center with a $1.2 million shortfall in its operating budget.

In addition to staff cuts, DiPaolo said the center has also frozen equipment purchases and facility modifications; suspended most business travel, overtime, and food and beverage purchases unless they are matched to revenue producing activities; frozen staff training using center funds; curtailed printing and office expenses; and encouraged staff to use vacation time.