The Argosy sat down with Marc Truitt to talk about his work as University librarian. Truitt is currently up for reappointment for another five-year term. The decision to reappoint him will ultimately be made by an advisory committee created specifically for this position.
Leo Gertler: What are your responsibilities as university librarian?
Marc Truitt: I suppose that depends on whom you ask, but you’re asking me. I’m in charge of, or responsible for, the daily operation of the two branches of the university libraries, the [Ralph Pickard] Bell and music libraries, and of the university archives.
I’m responsible for the day-to-day operations, for planning and budgeting. I’m responsible for working with other stakeholders in the community in order to ensure we are doing the best we can to serve their needs. We do this also so that [stakeholders] are aware of some of our challenges.
[I play] my part in the collegial governance of the university. [I work] with other libraries, collectively and individually, in order to co-operate and realize synergies as best we can. For example, I’m currently the chair of CAUL-CBUA (Council of Atlantic University Libraries), which focuses on things like resource sharing like ILL (interlibrary loans).
LG: What would you view as your major accomplishments at this university?
MT: It’s been a challenging several years. I think I’ve learnt that in a resource-challenged environment such as Mount Allison’s, and other very small places…is that they tend to work a lot differently than large places and sometimes well-endowed places. So little things that touch people end up being large, I think.
I’ve tried to work on things like addressing the needs of students and faculty as well as I can. One of the early big things that I worked on was obtaining the backfiles for about 2,000 journals from the publisher Elsevier, which is one of the big players in commercial publishing.
For a 12-month period, we had nearly 12,000 turn-aways of students trying to access journals. We arranged a deal with Elsevier to buy all of their issues, which predated our electronic subscription, and essentially got ourselves a custom package to pay for these journals without interest until we would own them. In the next turn-away report, we had only something like 1,000 turn-aways.
We installed CSD (Computing Services) classroom technology in the third floor theatre. Before, it had been a space that nobody was using and it was wasted. It’s since become very popular.
I’ve worked with the MASU (Mount Allison Students’ Union) on things like getting the comfy red chairs, because we previously had two upholstered chairs in the library which were real rats’ nests. People loved them, though, they liked comfortable chairs. One of the other things we worked with the MASU with was extending the library hours. What used to be the hours for exam period only are now the hours for the whole term.
LG: What are some of the challenges you’ve faced? How have you dealt with them, and hope to deal with them in the future?
MT: Some of those have been the pains of a university trying to find its right size. There have been cuts the last several years, but I want to emphasize that this a problem not unique to Mt. A. Some of those are due to fluctuations, or more like the collapse of the loonie against the greenback. The great majority of acquisitions, electronic and print, are coming from out-of-country and are traded generally in U.S. dollars. Back in January, when a loonie was only worth 60 cents on the dollar, that was devastating.
There are a number of challenging factors that have come together. How will I change that? Nobody can do it, [nobody] can snap their fingers. I can try to make the campus more aware of it. This is something we’ve tried [to do] and we haven’t always been very successful.
It’s hard to convince other departments to give you money when they’re experiencing cuts themselves. But the library affects everyone—we uniquely do, I think.
Truitt’s full CV and a statement of purpose can be found on the Mount Allison website under “Reappointments” in University Governance.