UCSC Library Faces $1.9 Million Reduction

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    despite a 33.5 percent reduction of the library’s open hours, further budget shortcomings mean more cutbacks are necessary — this time from the collections department. Photo by Nita-Rose Evans.
    despite a 33.5 percent reduction of the library’s open hours, further budget shortcomings mean more cutbacks are necessary — this time from the collections department. Photo by Nita-Rose Evans.

    The doors to the McHenry Library opened to more than 1 million visitors last year hoping to find a quiet place to study, a helpful librarian, an online journal, or a book on reserve.

    However, some of these services are in danger. Library administrators are currently implementing a cumulative 14.5 percent reduction. Online resources, which include journals and databases, are some of the services being reconsidered.

    “This is the first time we’ve had to go after collections in a major way,” said Kerry Scott, chair of the library’s collection development department.

    The proposed cutback in online resources comes in response to an overall cut in the library budget. This year the library received $1.9 million less than in the fiscal year 2007-2008.

    “Everyone is going to be impacted,” Scott said. “We really didn’t want to have to make these cuts. It’s not why we became librarians. We’re cognizant of how horrible this is.”

    According to the university library’s website, the collections budget in particular needs to be reduced by approximately $1 million. This is attributed in part to campus budget reductions, but also to inflation and the rising cost of journal publishing.

    Scott’s position normally entails purchasing books and serials, licensing databases, and signing up for online resources, along with teaching classes about how to use the online resources and working at the reference desk. However, because of the $780,000 permanent cut to online resources, she has started making decisions about which online databases and subscriptions the school cannot afford.

    “Instead of identifying material to pick up, I identify material to cancel,” Scott said.

    Online subscriptions such as “Chemistry and Industry,” which costs the library $925 per year, and humanities materials such as “Acronyms, Initialisms and Abbreviations,” which costs $5,386 per year, are both on the chopping block.

    From late November through December, faculty were encouraged to give their input on what materials to cancel. Kerry also looked at usage statistics before adding materials to the list.

    In a presentation given by executive librarian Ginny Steel, the cumulative permanent reduction of the library budget was projected to be 28.8 percent: 14.4 percent this year and a proposed 14.4 percent next year. To implement these cuts, there has been a 33.5 percent reduction in open library hours.

    “In spring 2008, we were open 99 and three-fourths hours per week,” said Ken Lyons, a university librarian. “Now we’re open 67 hours per week.”

    Lyons has been working for the UCSC library for nine years and has seen three major cuts in his time, but never one so severe as this.

    As his coworkers retire or leave for personal reasons, there is no money to replace them, and the librarians are forced to cover their work.

    “There are not enough people to maintain services as there should be,” Lyons said. “We’re living in 2010 making 1999 wages. After nine years, I’m just now making a few hundred dollars more a year than I made at the post office carrying mail. You put in more effort, get a higher degree, and expect to be enumerated appropriately, but that’s not the case.”

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    For a complete list of materials on the list of proposed cuts, visit library.ucsc.edu/collections/budget-reduction-process.