Library Seeks Student Input

According to University Librarian Brian Schottlaender, the budget was reduced by 7 percent in the 2008-09 academic year, and another 14 percent last year, totaling a reduction of over $6 million. Half of these reductions are permanent.

Library hours have been reduced by 12 percent in Geisel Library — it now closes at midnight from Sunday to Thursday instead of 2 a.m. and closes at 6 p.m. on Friday instead of 7 p.m. In addition, the various libraries have cut their book budget by $1.2 million, and have cancelled almost 750 print subscriptions.

According to Director of Library Communications Dolores Davies, the libraries will use the survey responses to create a new strategic plan for 2010 that includes a mission statement, statement of values and a prioritization of services and operations. The old strategic plan, adopted in 2006, expired last year.

“A strategic plan is basically a document that sets forth an organization’s mission, goals and strategic priorities,” Davies said.

The libraries are seeking input via a blog on the library Web site, white boards in the library lobby and meetings with faculty, students and administrators.

Davies said that the survey is meant to collect feedback on how the library can better serve students and which services are most important to them in the face of continuing budget cuts.

Laura Chipps, manager of the information desk and periodicals at Geisel, said the budget cuts have affected employees across the board.

“I’ve been here for a long time,” Chipps said. “I’ve seen many budget crises, but none as severe as this one.”

She said that 40 staff positions have been left unfilled or eliminated, although there have been no layoffs or resignations from the staff. Current employees are now responsible for these job duties.

“It’s just more stressful for us overall,” Chipps said. “People are starting to retire, and as their places are vacant, the burden of responsibility is placed down [on] the rest of us. ”

Schottlaender said that while there is no way to project future budget cuts, the book budget and vacancies would be the first services to be evaluated.

“Push come to shove, we’d look at our collections budget and see what we can trim from that,” he said.

In addition, Schottlaender said that there are currently many staff vacancies in the circulation and transaction areas, and that the library will look into consolidating these positions instead of hiring more employees.

Davies said that, depending on the severity of budget cuts, the libraries may be forced to cancel more journal subscriptions and further reduce hours of operation next year.

The libraries are collecting input through the end of Winter Quarter.

Readers can contact Angela Chen at [email protected].

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