Öppet brev: distansarbete, utbytesstudenter och bibliotek

Kära läsare,
denna gång exceptionellt ett blogginlägg på engelska så att alla, så att speciellt vår utländska personal förstår. Detta är ett öppet brev som jag idag har skickat till mina kära medarbetare vid Laboratoriet för teknisk kemi och reaktionsteknik vid ÅA.
God fortsättning på våren,
Tapio Salmi
Dear colleagues, dear friends,
I would have liked to approach you with a more positive letter, but I am obliged to tell the truth and you have the right to know what I think, without any diplomatic decorations.
The year 2020 was an Annus horribilis, which has been worsened by the anti-scientific attitude and escapism of the leadership at ÅA. The result is an enormpous damage of the scientific productivity, scientific interaction at ÅA, the alienation of the personnel, the disturbances in the motivation and mental health of the students.
The complete lock-down of the research laboratories last spring was a catastrophe, but we managed to partially re-open the laboratories after active actions taken by the trade union and the leading scientists at our university.
I have some comments on the recent actions originating from the highest level of our Alma Mater, summarized in three (3) points (as recommended by the former Prime minister of Finland, Dr Alexander Stubb):
P1) The vice-rector of scientific affairs tells in a very recent letter to all personnel as follows:
”Staff will mainly continue to work remotely. To enable us to further lower the total number of people on site, we ask those permitted to work on campus to consider, if their work could not be done remotely instead.”
This is a strongly demoralizing statement and a direct (envious) blow on the faces of the laboratories/groups (including us), which are the most active in experimental sciences and publishing activities. We know that sometimes it is good to stay at home to finalize a thesis or an article, but otherwise the science progresses mainly through personal interaction. Those who stay at home or go for weeks on (semi)holidays for egoistic personal reasons, become very soon outsiders, they lose the internal contacts and the scientific career declines very rapidly and time-limited work agreements cannot be prolonged because of weak commitment and poor performance. These kinds of persons should have no future at ÅA. It is a shame that the vice-rector in scientific affairs encourages to laziness in this brutal and imperative manner.
P2) The unclear and changing rules for the reception of exchange students damages seriously the internationalization of our university. Who is allowed to come and under which conditions? ÅA should follow the practice of Republic of Finland – that’s it. With corona test taken before entering our territory and a reasonable reason it is possible to come. We should remember that Finland is not in the very centre of Europe; therefore we must always be active in promoting international studies and keep our doors as open as possible. Erasmus and other exchange students must be allowed and are always welcome!
P3) The fate of the institutional/laboratory libraries in connection of the move to the new departmental building Aurum is a cultural scandal. In 2017, the consulting office Ramboll involved in the planning of Aurum asked how many meters of space we need for our Laboratory library. The Laboratory manager of our lab (K. Eränen) gave the objective information to the planners of Aurum. Now, more than three years afterwards, we have been informed that the we will lose about 80% of the shelf space of our combined library and meeting space. We should select a very, very minor fraction of the books (please, go and see the marked shells in the library). The rest of the books will be sent to a remote storage, where, we do not know. From there, we can order our books back, but it is clear that this procedure is uncertain and slow and the risk that that a big part of the ‘old’ books will be demolished is huge. The idea of a ‘handbibliotek’ (small laboratory library) is that you can spontaneously have a look and pick up what is interesting and what you need. Small is beautiful; no complicated computer search is needed to glance fresh information in reaction engineering and catalysis. This opportunity will be destroyed, if we do not take actions asap. The ÅA library is on our side, but as characteristic under the current leadership, not even the director of the ÅA library, Dr. Pia Södergård had been contacted/informed on this highly destructive action. The message from the highest level has been: no books are needed in Aurum. If I would be provocative, I would give an encouragement: burn them all – we have the experience from these kind of actions from 1930’s. This destruction of the university library concerns all the groups/labs moving to Aurum. – Throughout the years, ÅA has declared the strategy of preserving the cultural heritage in our country and it has done it, with a great enthusiasm, success and effort. Now the wind has turned.
This is an open and a public letter, which I publish as my blog on the website of ÅA. You are completely free to cite and use the material in this letter.
Yours very truly

2 thoughts on “Öppet brev: distansarbete, utbytesstudenter och bibliotek

  1. Dear Tapio,

    it is true that only a minor part of your current library will fit into Aurum. The rest will be placed in a remote storage. For security reasons, we cannot reveal the exact location of that storage. The library will, however, continue to provide smooth access to the material.

    You can request books from the storage online, and we will deliver them straight to your offices in Aurum. If you experience that the delivery is too slow, don’t hesitate to contact me, so we can revise our routines.

    Finally, I can assure you, the library will continue to take professional care of the collections, regardless of where they are located.

    Linda Nisula
    Deputy Chief Librarian

    1. At least the books have somewhere to be, students on the other hand won’t even get an off site storage to hang around in. It is interesting to see the old guard in a similar situation to the one students have been in for years, where essential spaces are taken away and very important social connections are never made as a result.

      As a side note, lab work obviously can’t be done from home, but we are still in a pandemic, and that should be taken into concideration.

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