The Maneater

Official university fundraising campaigns initiated to extend library hours

User Engagement Librarian Grace Atkins: “We understand that hours are the priority, and we are trying to get them back.”

After last year’s library fee failed, library hours have been limited, causing discussion of a new fee to resurface.

A student-created petition that received over 2,500 signatures has initiated a donation movement to reinstate Ellis Library’s 24-hour weekday schedule. UM System policy does not allow GoFundMe pages such as the one created by the student, but in response, a donation page has been created on MU’s official crowdfunding site, GiveDirect.

The donation goal is $90,000, which is the cost of keeping the library open for extended hours for one year, library spokeswoman Shannon Cary said.

User Engagement Librarian Grace Atkins will meet with the University Libraries Student Advisory Council on Oct. 4 to talk about the petition and fundraising options.

“We hear you; we have all of the data on just how used the library was when it was open 24/5,” Atkins said. “We, as librarians, saw that need was met. We want to meet that need, but we do not have the funding.”

The library has received a record-high amount of donations, but year-to-year operating costs cannot be run on donations alone, Atkins said.

Last year was the first that Ellis was open 24 hours on weekdays after the provost’s office gave the library a one-time allotment of two semesters’ worth of funds to test it out.

After gathering data on how many people utilized the new hours, the library announced that in order for the service to remain available, a student fee would have to be passed.

Library staff made it clear that if the student fee did not pass, hours would have to be cut, Atkins said. The vote did not pass.

Last spring, ULSAC, which is composed of the major student groups on campus, was convened to discuss library issues and help give information to other students.

After MU made 5 percent budget cuts across the board and the library made $1.2 million worth of budget cuts, there was not enough revenue to sustain the extended hours and keep up with other costs. While no staff members have been laid off, several have retired and the vacant positions have not been filled.

In addition to the reduction of hours, the library’s collections have been hurt by the lack of funding. Collections include journals, books, databases, articles, statistics reports and special collections, with some of them costing thousands of dollars per year.

“This is a big issue, and it’s way bigger than hours,” Atkins said. “We understand that hours are the priority, and we are trying to get them back.”

The library currently has four GiveDirect campaigns for various needs, Cary said. Additionally, library staff is reaching out to alumni for donations.

Atkins urges students to remain involved in the process.

“Try to stay as informed as you can,” Atkins said. “Keep voicing your concerns to your student leaders, because they are relaying that information to us … We’re trying to move forward and make this better and get our hours back.”

Edited by Kyra Haas | khaas@themaneater.com

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