More NGA stories

Librarians gone – and the cover story

There are so many things to love about the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) – but..

We wish all was well within this cherished national cultural institution. We have already commented on some of the issues – click here.

As reported in The Conversation, one piece of devastating news is what the new management has done to the nationally cherished NGA library.

The writers in The Conversation talk of the loss of the senior positions and what this means for researchers. They are correct in reporting this but are not so accurate in the reasons they give as to why this has happened.

Unfortunately the writers have picked up on the versions of events as portrayed by media statements circulated by the management of the NGA. The NGA has blamed the ‘efficiency dividend’ and nothing else. These efficiency dividends are cuts demanded by the Federal Government of all public sector departments.

First off, the NGA is not a department of the government but is a independent statutory authority (as is the ABC and CSIRO). If it wished to do so the NGA could choose not follow the directive to implement the ‘efficiency dividend’ as the government has instructed all government departments.

More importantly while this ‘efficiency dividend’ is having an effect on the finances of the NGA, this is not the real reason why the NGA has lost its senior librarians. This matter has been used as a smoke screen for all manner of management decisions.

The NGA council and the current management have implemented some very weird decisions that have seen staff leave or shown the door – presumably to balance the books.

We have even heard that their chosen management consultants had recommended that the library should be closed completely.

Meanwhile  the executive positions have increased (surprise!) and expensive changes made to the programs and exhibition spaces – such as moving the shop to make way for the huge play area next to the front door. Very silly!

The loss of the librarians (stupid!) as reported in The Conversation is more or less correct but the reasons given are not so accurate. The smoke screen is just that.

The real reason has been the new management style and how they allocate funds according to their new very strange priorities (wrong). We are hearing very worrying stories about the impact of the current management of the NGA, our cherished national institution.

The ‘efficiency dividend’ is bad – but it is the least of our worries. It is going to take a complete change of management and then quite a few years for all these bad decisions to be corrected.

More to come on this…


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