Profile: Ted Goshulak
Ted Goshulak, University Librarian, Trinity and Western University, describes his role at a small Canadian university.
Ours is not a very large library or a very large institution. I have fifteen library faculty and staff and 20 student workers. Basically, my job is that of chief administrator, but it being a smaller library I have other areas of responsibility as well. I’ve been here for twenty-five years, fifteen as a reference librarian and ten as the ‘boss’. My predecessor worked here for thirty years; he hired me and we’re still in touch. He’s a kind of elder statesman to me.
We have lots of committees here at TWU (as most academic institutions do). I’m a member of the Senate and I serve on the Curriculum Sub-Committee. I have dispersed a number of the other committee jobs to librarian members of my team, so that they get a chance to be involved in what’s going on. I’m still responsible for periodicals as well as media ordering and copyright.
The biggest issue that Canadian academic libraries have to face is how to get adequate funding. I lived in the UK for a while in the ‘70s but I don’t remember how the funding works there and in any case I think it’s changed now. In the USA, universities are run on a mixture of private and public funding; in Canada, education is funded provincially. There are ten provinces and three territories, each with a different approach. In British Columbia we get no funds from the government. We’re therefore a tuition-driven institution, which has its challenges. We receive some federal funding for specialised research chairs – we have a faculty member doing cancer research and a specialist on the Dead Sea Scrolls, for example – but that is all. All other monies come from tuition and fundraising. We have an ongoing conversation with the government about getting some form of financial support. They’re interested in funding teacher education programmes and masters degrees in Nursing, so we’re concentrating on these areas. Our public universities – e.g., Calgary – get funding; Toronto and others have gone for bringing in foreign students and charging them a premium. Universities everywhere are doing this, of course. We have an ESL institute here to prepare them for learning in a different language.
We now offer an International MBA in China. Our students taking a Masters in Science or Nursing are here for one month, then they continue their coursework at a distance. This internationalisation of study has been one of the big changes that have happened during the course of my career.
We don’t have big initiatives, but we carry out lots of incremental changes to improve things for the students. The library building is twenty-five years old. It looked so empty when it was new; now, we’re strapped for space. Throughout my whole career the demise of the print book has been predicted, but print is not going away. We encourage people to buy e-books when they can, but much of what we want is either not available electronically or it’s too expensive.
Last year we embarked on a project to get rid of microfiche. We joined JSTOR and matched its list to what we had on film. We were able to get rid of 15 microfiche cabinets containing 850 kg of film. This freed up a whole room. We were given some money to provide it with glass
tables and a glass door, so it has plenty of light. It’s created 60 new study places. Students call it ‘the glass room’.
My role is very varied. The university is small enough to have a faculty meeting once a month, and if there’s something I need them to know about I get a place on the agenda. LibQual was introduced last year. We have a blog and a Facebook page that is maintained by the library. I’m not a fan of Twitter: it would take up too much staff time. The librarians spend several hours a week on Askaway (a virtual reference service), which enables users to ask questions of librarians across the whole province. Users want to be more in contact with us than in the past, and the librarians do a lot of classroom liaison work.
Even though we’re a private institution and not funded by the government, we are still regulated. There is an assessment board which approves each new degree programme and an adequate library element has to be demonstrated. Each programme has to be reviewed every few years. Canadian postsecondary institutions have not been accredited in the same way that degrees have in the USA, but this will change. Capilano University, here in North Vancouver, now has accreditation: it’s a seven year process. We’ll be consumed with having to provide statistics through LibQual, etc.; our first site visit takes place in November. I don’t mind it, because it offers an opportunity to show that we need more financial support. On behalf of our users, I always have my hand out for more money.
When I’m not working in the library, I like to spend a lot of time with my family. I’ve been married for 35 years and have two daughters. My first daughter married eight years ago and the second this June. I have a four-year-old grandson. He represents the one time in my life that I get to be worshipped – though I know this will be very short. When he starts school it will be a different matter. My wife looks after him while my daughter works. We were foster parents for 12 years – we looked after drug babies until they were about three, then they were adopted or went back to their families. We’ve stopped doing it now: I decided it was time I got some sleep! I’m a keen birdwatcher. We tend to get the rarities here, because of migration; recently we had a visit from a Red Flanked Bluetail from Asia. I’ve done some bird watching in the UK, Kenya, Cuba, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica. My wife tolerates it as long as we go somewhere warm, but there’s plenty for us at home. This fall and last fall were both spectacular: there’s been hardly any rain. Like the ways we do things in the library, the weather patterns are changing.