Mabee to halve book budget

ReAnne Utemark

In a fiscal environment where no line item is safe, Mabee Library’s budget is going to be cut more than 54 percent for the next fiscal year.

In an effort to deal with the tight budget, the library will reallocate $114,000 within the collections budget for 2009 – 2010, according to documents posted on the Mabee Library Web site. Several hundred databases and journals will be removed as well.

“We do not want to cut the book budget,” said Alan Bearman, interim dean of University libraries. “But, the pressure on our acquisition funding, electronic resources and serials is significant and without new money, the book fund is really about the only place we can get the necessary funds to support the ongoing and growing demands on electronic resources.”

Bearman said he did not think this would take the focus away from the physical library experience, which includes books. He said students and faculty wanted access to information and resources from their homes and offices and that the University libraries were trying to meet those needs.

However, in addition to cutting the book budget, several electronic databases are on the chopping block. In another document posted on the library Web site, databases such as CQ Weekly, Art Index and Business and Management, along with 22 others are listed as targeted for removal. Additionally, over 300 journals are targets for removal in academic areas across campus.

“For those who have looked carefully at what we are proposing, it has been shock,” said Bearman. “I think people appreciate the fact that we are trying to reallocate money to support the things that they tell us that they need. But they don’t fully grasp how much fiscal pressure we’re under.”

Iris Wilkinson, an associate professor in the social work department was concerned about the cuts, but also agreed that the library was facing serious budget concerns.

“We can have a university without a lot of other extra curricular activities, but we can’t have a university without a library,” said Wilkinson.

She said that the library is central to the University and hoped that the Washburn community would help during this time.

“I hope that everybody in the campus community can figure out some ways to preserve our library,” said Wilkinson.

Bearman agreed and when asked about a Library fee, he said that the library was “grossly underfunded” and that the discussion of a library fee would be beneficial.

“We have a mandate from the Higher Learning Commission reaccreditation committee,” said Bearman. “I think that a discussion about a library fee is relevant to our current situation.”

Bearman said most universities, including Washburn’s peer institutions, require library fees.

Amy Billinger, Washburn Student Government Association vice president said that while students do not like paying more fees, it still could be something students accept.

“I think if they understand how it is going to benefit the university and their education, they will be more likely to accept it,” said Billinger.

Billinger also said that students are likely to be unhappy with the proposed cuts.

“The library is the heart of students’ education, budget cuts to that are of course, going to bother students,” said Billinger.

For more information about the proposed cuts, visit the Mabee Library Web site at