Recent budget cuts to MU Libraries decrease staff, materials

MU Libraries spokeswoman Shannon Cary: “The library has purchased automatic check-out machines to help deal with decreases in staff.”
MU library budget cuts have led to multiple changes to library management and opportunity.

The recent MU Libraries deficit of $1.2 million for the 2017 fiscal year will affect more than just operating hours. Ellis has had to cut back on employment positions and materials.

“As staff have left or retired, we have combined some positions or decided not to fill positions,” MU Libraries spokeswoman Shannon Cary said. “We analyze all of our jobs and decide what tasks absolutely have to be done.”

The libraries are using technology to offset fewer staff numbers and operating hours.

“The library has purchased automatic check-out machines to help deal with decreases in staff, and we have increased our chat reference service to almost 24 hours to make up for the cuts in our building hours,” Cary said.

Most of the deficit represents the increased cost of books and journals over several years. It costs more each year to purchase the same amount of material, and the libraries are no longer able to come up with ways to cover these increases even with one-time funding, according to the library collections budget.

MU Libraries has tried to account for loss of money by fundraising through alumni donations, said Matthew Gaunt, MU Libraries director of advancement.

Last spring, students did not pass a library fee that would help fund library operations. If passed, the fee would have cost each student $5 per credit hour and would have increased by $2 each year until it would have reached $15 per credit hour in the year 2022, according to previous Maneater reporting.

“It’s really disappointing that we could not reach out to the students,” Gaunt said. “It’s hard for students to understand that we are the only unit to not have a fee already, everything on campus has a fee, intramural sports have a fee. Even if you don’t play sports, you still are paying that fee.”

According to the library collections budget, the total monetary decrease from the 5 percent budget cut is $877,000.00. The additional deficit comes from the increasing costs of journals and other materials. The Libraries will address 70 percent of that budget cut by further reducing operational expenditures, including staffing. The other 30 percent, approximately $250,000, will be cut from the collections budget, based on expected revenue.

Cary said that with the budget cuts to staff members and librarians, it’s more difficult to continue to provide all of the libraries’ services.

“In 2001, we were at a high of employment with 208 employees, and last year we had 136 staff members,” Gaunt said. “In just one year, we had to cut back on 18 positions.”

Edited by Kyra Haas |

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