CLICS May Close Next Year Due to Budget Cuts

Erika Johnson/UCSD Guardian

The UCSD Library Committee has outlined a plan to close the CLICS Library for the 2011-12 academic year as part of a $3 million budget cut to the libraries.

“The only we way would be able to absorb a cut the size of $3 million is to close our smaller libraries’ facilities,” university librarian Brian Schottlaender said.

The cut is part of the UCSD’s budget cut of $60 million — based on Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed $500 million budget reduction to the UC system. The library was originally asked by the Campus Budget Office to cut $6 million but the committee said it could only take a $3 million cut.

The closure of CLICS alone would save $450,000 next year.

“We are still in the planning stages and don’t expect a final budget until June or later,” Libraries’ Communications Director Dolores Davies said. “[But] we could conceivably start closing the libraries slated for closure as soon as this summer.”

CLICS is not the only library on campus in danger of being shut down. The Medical Center Library, Science & Engineering Library and Scripps Library will also be closed. The closure of these three libraries would save $645,000.

“We simply can’t continue to absorb additional reductions of this magnitude without consolidating and closing some of our facilities,” Davies said. “There is just no reasonable alternative.”

Select collections and services from these libraries would be consolidated into the Biomedical Library, while collections from the International Relations and Pacific Studies Library would be merged with Geisel Library, forming a single Social Sciences & Humanities Library (and saving $345,000).

Last year, Sixth College senior and then-A.S. President Utsav Gupta sought funding solutions for maintaining library services, but little came of the efforts.

“It was an inside conversation of whether or not there would be any willingness,” Gupta said. “There was no answer to that. I didn’t really push it forward.”

Despite last year’s lack of progress concerning libraries, Gupta said he supports prioritizing the libraries.

“We need places where we can study effectively to achieve the academic mission of the university,” Gupta said. “Residence halls and study halls don’t have an environment that is condusive to higher learning, which a library has.”

Campus Budget Office Assistant Vice Chancellor Sylvia Lepe-Askari said the $60 million cut estimate is based on the fact that UCSD comprises about 12 percent of the UC system.

“No decisions have been made to simply make cuts [right now],” Lepe-Askari said. “If you look at the system-wide total budget and look at the proportional share of the individual campuses, that’s a basic proxy we typically use to allow us to plan [a budget cut].”

Lepe-Askari said the university is looking at other alternatives to address the budget cuts, like grants and bonds.

The books that are currently in CLICS would be returned to the company they were rented from. The computers, on the other hand, would be moved to other parts of campus.

“The library is not only a symbolic, but also a very practical, place for students to study,” Sixth College Senator Parminder Sandhu said. “Closing the library should be a last resort and something that really is kind of in the unfathomable, because we’re an institution of higher learning and the libraries are where people study, where they learn, where they access resources, both tangible and non-tangible.”

Additional disagreements to the closures has been stated by other A.S. councilmembers.

“A lot of students rely on [CLICS] for finals week, because it’s open 24/7 — Geisel barely stays open until 12,” Campuswide Senator and Library Committee member Anish Bhayani said. “And so we’re looking at a huge impact to UCSD students in terms of the library options that they have and the hours that they can utilize the library for studying.”

For the last three years, the libraries, which depend on state funding for nearly 85 percent of their budget, have suffered from budget cuts of $5 million, or 16 percent, of their total budget.

“[So far we’ve managed the budget with] all kinds of cost-cutting around the edges — so we’ve shortened library hours, consolidated service points and reduced information expenditures and we’ve eliminated a bunch of positions,” Schottlaender said.

He said reductions have become increasingly difficult to deal with.

“If we’re asked to take another $3 million cut the next fiscal year, on top of all the cuts we’ve already made, we will not be able to do that by cutting around the edges, because there are no more edges to cut around,” Schottlaender said.

With the state budget plan, UC Berkeley will cut $80.8 million while UCLA will face the largest budget cut at $96 million.

“Berkeley and Los Angeles, for example, will be different, because they’re certainly much more senior and larger campuses.”

The Library Committee meeting is scheduled for March 5, after Acting Senior Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Suresh Subramani reviews how other departments are absorbing cuts.

UCSD Budget Office Assistant Director Blair Stephenson said it is too early to tell how the $60 million cut will affect other areas of campus.

“The whole campus is planning cuts, but there’s nothing that has been identified on where the cuts are going to be,” Stephenson said. “It’s more of a potential response to the cut, but the campus hasn’t even allocated how the $60 million would be distributed across the campus — we’re so early in the planning stages right now.”

Stephenson said his office is examining the impact of previous cuts.

“We knew this year would be worse than the previous year,” Stephenson said. “The budget office is now getting a sense of what that would look like and campus leadership is looking at how they can address the budget crisis.”

He said he is concerned about the 7-percent fee increase that may take place next year, based on a legislative analysis published by the Sacramento Bee in a Feb. 14 blog post.

“If budget cuts grow, there may be a seven percent fee increase,” Stephenson said. “That’s one of our greatest fears right now. Students will be impacted [and] we may have less faculty, less TAs, higher fees — any scenario you can think of is a possibility.”

Additional reporting by Laira Martin and Regina Ip.

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