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McGill students raise $1.2 million to improve libraries on campus

Published: 7 Apr 1998

The Library Improvement Fund set up by the Students' Society of McGill University has raised over a million dollars to improve the quality of on-campus libraries.

For the first time in Canadian post-secondary education history, undergraduate students have raised over a million dollars to improve their on-campus library facilities. With the current round of provincial budget cutbacks and less overall public funding for higher education in Canada, McGill University students have taken the initiative to help ensure the continued high quality of this fundamental teaching and research need.

The Library Improvement Fund (LIF) was created by the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) in the fall of 1996. The student body also joined with library administrators to form the Library Improvement Committee. Before long, a total of $1.2 million had been raised: half donated directly by the students, the rest coming from matching contributions from the University. The collected funds will be distributed by the Library Improvement Committee to several of McGill’s sectoral libraries in proportion to the number of students in each faculty or department.

The students’ gift emphasizes the importance that undergraduates in all disciplines place on library collections and services. So far, the Library Improvement Committee has decided to invest $100,000 in an electronic classroom, which will be equipped with 25 networked computer terminals for instructing students on accessing electronic information. The classroom will improve the instructional programs provided throughout the University. As an increasing amount of information becomes WEB-based, it is vital that students have information training to provide them with the necessary skills for lifelong learning. An additional $750,000 will go to the expansion and updating of several different collections of journals and texts especially oriented to undergraduate needs. The Library Improvement Committee will designate additional funds in the 1998-99 academic year.

"The SSMU is very proud of the contribution which it is making towards the betterment of the libraries", says Elizabeth Gomery, Chair of the LIF committee. "All Canadian universities have been adversely affected by the systematic cuts to education in the past decade. The students at McGill don’t want to see those cuts damage such an important aspect of our university." The creation of the Library Improvement Fund has provided an opportunity for students to work directly with library administrators on something which is of intense concern and benefit to them. These types of partnerships are not unique at McGill. Increasingly, students have recognized the need to support areas that are essential to their education. Over the last five years McGill students have pledged financial support to the Athletic Complex, the new Law Library, and the new Macdonald student centre to name a few. Nor is this example of student support for libraries unique. The Arts Undergraduate Society, the Law Students’ Association, the Music Undergraduate Students’ Association and the Social Work Students’ Association have also pledged their financial support for the purchase of library materials in their areas.

Frances Groen, Director of Libraries is delighted with the student’s efforts: "Increasing the library budget during a university-wide financial crisis will benefit the entire academic community at McGill. Congratulations to the McGill undergraduates for seeing a need and doing something about it."

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