MU Libraries struggle to make improvements after fee fails

Without funding from the proposed library fee, the libraries may have to decrease their hours.
Student preps for an afternoon of studying in Ellis Library.

After MU’s student body voted to fail the library fee, MU Libraries are struggling to fund renovations, staffing and library materials.

Shannon Cary, spokeswoman for MU Libraries, said there have been discussions of reducing library operating hours beginning in the fall 2016 semester. She said that because of a lack of staffing and a lack of funding to support more staff members, it is no longer possible for the library to maintain the hours of operation that have been available to students in the past.

According to the Missouri Students Association election results, 54 percent of students voted against the library fee. If passed, the fee would have provided $13 million per year to MU Libraries at its peak. The money would have gone towards improving campus libraries, excluding the School of Law Library, cosmetically as well as by expanding staff, facilities, and collections, according to previous Maneater reporting.

Without the funding from the fee, MU Libraries will be looking at cutting academic materials as well as reducing hours.

“We’re going to be looking at a big journal cut, cutting over a million dollars of library resources, probably books as well,” Director of MU Libraries Ann Riley said.

Cary explained that journals often come in packages where some journals in the package are used often, and others are hardly used at all. MU Libraries is currently seeking input on journal subscription renewals to determine which materials to cut and which materials to repurchase.

Riley said though the cuts will prove to be detrimental to undergraduate students with a loss of up-to-date print sources and access to fewer databases, graduate students and researchers will be the most greatly affected by the loss of journals.

“Because of our terrible budget problems, we’re quickly losing that status (of being a major research university),” Riley said.

MU is also risking losing library staff without adequate funding to raise employees’ salaries, though many employees are expected to stay at MU, Riley said.

“There are a lot of services that the library would like to offer, but they just don’t have the staffing or financial support,” said Denice Adkins, program chair for MU’s Library and Information Science master’s program.

Adkins said MU librarians want to work directly with more classes and students, but they are not able to do so due to the low staffing levels.

While there is no direct correlation between the success of MU Libraries and the success of the Library and Information Science program, the master’s program is being affected, and will continue to be affected as long as the libraries are receiving inadequate funding.

“There is a very real risk that (inadequate funding to the libraries) could (affect students in the LIS program),” Adkins said.

MU Libraries currently assist the Library and Information Science program by providing several graduate assistantships to students, Adkins said. With inadequate funding to continue hiring students, graduate assistantships could be jeopardized.

“If the library doesn’t have enough money to hire our students, obviously they won’t,” Adkins said. “One of the advantages our students gain from actually working with the library is they’re in a much better position to be employable after they graduate.”

The libraries are continuing fundraising efforts, working with the Our Time to Lead campaign, Cary said. Despite challenges, MU Libraries is working to make improvements within their reach and trying to minimize the effects on students, Cary said.

Riley said MU Libraries is working with Vice Chancellor for Operations Gary Ward to make a few cosmetic changes, such as improving lighting in room 114 and updating the blinds in room 202. However, no major improvements are a possibility under current budgetary restraints.

There will be no expanding of staff or collections and no major renovations under the current budget, Cary said.

“In the current budgetary environment, that’s just not a possibility for us,” Riley said.

Edited by Taylor Blatchford |

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