Failed fee and budget cuts cause changes at MU Libraries

MU Libraries are searching for more funding and have raised $6 million so far.

Former MU student Kelly Dobbs studies at Ellis Library on Feb. 17, 2015, in Columbia, Mo. Due to budget cuts and the failure of a library fee referendum last fall, MU LIbraries are shortening hours and cutting some resources. Maneater File Photo

This semester, due to reduced funding, Ellis Library will have fewer hours and reduced resources.

Last year, Ellis was open 24 hours for five days per week. This semester, during finals week and the week before, Ellis Library will be open 24 hours a day. Regularly, on Sunday through Thursday, the library will close at midnight, and on Friday and Saturday, the library will close at 7 p.m.

Changes at campus libraries are a result of a failed library fee proposal, as well as a 5 percent cut in MU’s general operating funds. The proposal would have implemented a fee per credit hour that would have begun at $5 per credit hour and slowly increased to $15 per credit hour by 2022. Last year, 54 percent of MU students who voted on the fee voted against the proposal.

At its peak, the proposed fee would have provided the libraries with 13 million dollars in funding each year. Without this funding, campus libraries are reducing staff members and eliminating resources, according to previous Maneater reporting. So far, the libraries have removed eight positions.

Multiple fundraisers have taken place to make up for the loss in revenue. Matt Gaunt, director of advancement for MU Libraries, explained that a comprehensive campaign for the campus has raised over $6 million for MU Libraries so far. The libraries have received help from individual donors as well.

MU Libraries spokeswoman Shannon Cary said the libraries are still searching for funding.

“We will continue to talk to the administration about better funding, we will continue to fundraise, and we will continue to look for possible sources,” Cary said.

However, funding is being provided for some repairs and upgrades at library facilities.

The Student Fee Capital Improvement Committee has approved $50,000 to refurbish Bookmark Cafe.

Other improvements students can expect include a refurbished West Wing reading room. Gaunt said it will have new blinds that automatically adjust depending on the time of day so students can be comfortable when reading.

Along with shorter hours, academic journals are another resource being reduced at the libraries. However, even if Ellis Library doesn’t have a certain journal, Cary said the library should be able to access it if given enough time.

“We should still be able to get any journals you may need, but it may take a little longer,” Cary said. “Students should know to plan ahead.”

To compensate for reduced hours, online chat times with librarians will expand.

“If a student needs assistance in the middle of the night, they should be able to get help with their research,” Cary said.

Gaunt said the new hours will be the biggest change.

“Students will need to remember that if they have a project to work on at three or four in the morning, they won’t be able to do it at the library,” Gaunt said.

Edited by Claire Mitzel | cmitzel@themaneater.com

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