Library faces budget cuts

HELEN SMITH; Mast Radio News Host; I

Mortvedt Library is cutting their spending, and some resources won’t be returning for next year.

Pacific Lutheran University’s library budget decreased because of the school-wide budget shortfall, forcing library staff to discontinue some subscriptions.  And as the number of students have decreased over the years, the library has been constantly accommodating the shift.

Director of Library Services Fran Lane Ramos said the the change is not new for the library. “We’ve been having cuts for several years,” Ramos said.

The cost of information itself has also gone up since the market crash in 2009, Ramos said. Academic journals have increased as much as 25 percent in price over the last five years. Ramos manages spending by keeping a close eye on what information students use and what information courses require.

As articles and journals become available online instead of in print, the library subscribes to multiple information services so that students can access them. These subscriptions go up for renewal yearly based on the time of year they were bought. The library team is constantly evaluating the subscriptions’  usefulness to PLU students as they come up for renewal.

The library is able to track which resources are used, so the librarians look at that data to determine whether or not to keep those resources. Ramos said they look at subscriptions to individual articles because they often end up having to buy them on more than one platform.

“What we’re looking at is some of the individual titles we have,” Ramos said. “So take a title: JSTOR buys the old backfile and sells it to us, and it’s great because then we don’t have to keep copies up on our shelves. Then we get in a database like EBSCO, but publishers put on a year embargo, like six, twelve or eighteen months. So then, we get to buy it a third time for the current year. What we’re looking at is how we can avoid paying for it three times.”

Certain resources the library pays for have a price dependent on the number of full-time students. The most recent overall figure is around $670 a student, based on last year’s enrollment and spending. Those resources can package databases in bulk and offer the library a price based on how many students attend the university.

As they face a decreasing budget, a top priority for the staff is maintaining their business hours to serve students.

Sophomore Brionna Barabe finds the hours and availability of the librarians to be helpful.

“I’ve always been able to find what I’m looking for,” Barabe said. “Once I did the Ask-a-Librarian thing where you actually email them, and that was helpful. I think it’s helpful, and in general I just like studying at the library. It’s a nice quiet place.”

Sophomore Andrina MacDonald also utilizes the quiet study space.

“I mostly just use the library as a quiet place to study,” MacDonald said. “From the experience that I’ve had, it seems like we get what we need.”

When asked if she had noticed the decrease in online resources, MacDonald couldn’t say she had.

“Honestly, I haven’t noticed anything,” MacDonald said.

While PLU may not currently have the funds to go through with proposed renovations on the library, the library staff is always making small renovations to improve student experience in Mortvedt. Ramos explained that funds from the capital campaign could go toward renovating the library, but how the money is used depends on what donors want to pay for.

“In the meantime, we’ve been doing incremental improvements: painting study room walls, adding accent color, getting a couple new chairs, a new table,” Ramos said. “We’re really trying to be responsive to the students so we ask: what can we do? What are your top priorities?”

The library will be hosting their annual Snapshot Day on Monday April 3 to collect student responses on what improvements they would like to see in the library. In the past, students have asked for more power outlets, a first-floor bathroom and more study spaces by the windows.

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