By: Henry Eden ~Staff Writer~
Students and faculty might begin to feel the effects of an underfunded library.
Students are often instructed to use subject-specific databases and journals for research projects. These resources are paid for by the library’s acquisition budget. According to Dr. Tom Strunk, a professor of Classics and the chairman of the Library Committee, steady cuts to this budget combined with increasing subscription prices every year, may start to have an effect on the quality of research that students and faculty members will be able to do.
“There have been a number of cuts over the recent years to the point that we’re down about $100,000 or so in terms of the overall acquisitions budget,” Strunk said. “If you look at an 18-year window, roughly we’re actually at about the same level we were at 10 years ago.”
While the library’s budget appears to remain steady year-toyear, Strunk said that the budget actually loses value annually.
“There’s regular inflation, and, moreover, with a lot of the journal subscriptions and database subscriptions, they go up about five to 10 percent ever year pretty consistently,” Strunk said.
Until now, most of the cuts made have targeted items that would generally go unused. Faculty members have also agreed to forego purchasing certain textbooks in favor of keeping some databases or journals. However, these decisions will not be as easy moving forward.
“It’s gotten to the point where a lot of what’s left to cut, most people consider to be important stuff,” Strunk said. “Even if we get rid of all of the faculty and librarian allowances for books, the budget is barely going to be enough to cover the journal and database subscriptions that we have.”
The list of items that may be removed from the budget is beginning to include items that may be the most important database or resource for a particular field of study, according to Strunk.
“The concern isn’t simply going to be about whether I will be able to get my research done to publish my next book,” Strunk said. “The issue here really is, can students get their research done for papers, for honors theses and learn to be good researchers and be able to enter the field.”
Strunk and the library committee created a survey earlier this year in order to collect information and ideas from the faculty regarding which items would be most beneficial to keep for the faculty and their students.
“Father Graham said that they would be paying a little bit more attention to the library acquisition budget so that maybe not for this year, but that going forward, we would be looking at trying to get more resources for the library,” Strunk said. “We haven’t heard anything more than that specifically, but we as a committee want to try and nail that down and find out more about what that means.”