Library trying to match up to other Kansas libraries – Part 2 of 3

Julie Knapp

While Mabee Library has been receiving faculty and student complaints and suggestions throughout the past couple of years, it isn’t the only university library facing problems. All across the state, Regents libraries have been facing problems due to the rate of inflation and the increased demand for research.

In 2003-04, Mabee saw a dramatic drop in the number of items purchased. The number of books purchased decreased by 20 percent while the number of journals decreased by eight percent. David Feinmark, coordinator of collection development and management, said the reason for this is the inflation factor for library materials is higher than others in the consumer price index, and the Washburn library budget has not kept pace.

Mabee isn’t the only library experiencing budgetary issues. In 2002-2003, Fort Hays State University’s library decreased funds allocated for book purchases by academic departments by more than $5,000. The funds allocated for reference material also decreased by about $3,000.

According to Emporia State University’s Web site, their budget also limits the amount of materials they have available to students. Currently, they can only buy approximately 4,000 books a year, which requires them to be extremely selective.

One of the biggest outlays of Mabee Library has been spending for online journals. In the first nine months of 2004, compared to the first nine months in 2005, electronic journal usage increased by 20 percent. Washburn currently has over 11,000 full-text electronic journal titles, whereas Emporia State Library has approximately 16,800 online journals. Washburn is hoping to continue to increase this number if the budget allows.

“We would hope that as the generations turn over, students will be more used to using journals,” said Feinmark.

Since Washburn is not a research institution, the budget, circulation and collection can’t be compared to Kansas State University or Kansas University libraries. However, Feinmark said that with events like Apeiron and policies such as the Transformational Experience, the research demand at Washburn will likely increase.

“We are obviously not comparing ourselves to Harvard or KU, but we would like to compare ourselves to Emporia or Truman State,” said Feinmark. “Given the restrictions, we think we do an admirable job, and we’d like to do more of it.”

According to Feinmark, many universities have taken a library fee in order to be able to accommodate more needs. However, Washburn doesn’t want to do this, because they want to keep student fees at a minimum.

Feinmark believes one of the most important things for every library to do is to assess the needs of the curriculum and decide what is important to them. Feinmark said that the library can’t be all things to all people, so their goal is to try and find a happy medium.

“No library can supply every research need,” said Feinmark.