I just came back from an open meeting of the faculty and staff with Dr. Martin Halbert, Dean of libraries, University of North Texas. During our discussion some salient aspects of the new budget cuts to the library’s budget were shared and discussed.
It seems that under some arcane rule, the library staff are paid not with the state of Texas funds but by the funds raised through the library usage fees charged to the students by UNT. It has suddenly been told to the library administrators that effective immediately, the salaries and benefits of the library staff must now be covered from the library usage fees. The university is reluctant to raise the usage fees so there is no chance of increasing the funds available.
As a result, as per the current estimates, the library will have to cut about 1.7 million dollars/ annum from its allocation for materials and subscriptions to fill this budget shortfall. This could have devastating effects on the functioning and quality of our research libraries.
For example, while there are no plans to lay off workers, the library is expected to cancel certain number of their journal and database subscriptions to cover the budget shortfall. This means that not only will the faculty and students lose access to numerous resources vital to their research and education, but that the library will also lose the negotiated price of these resources. For each research bundle, the University library usually negotitates a suitable price, but if the they cancel these subscriptions now, then any time in the future the re-acquisitions will have to be according to the market prices of the databases at that time, which is likely to be higher than the locked in rate at this time.
Furthermore, these cuts would also impact the number and amount of resources the university needs to hold to make sure that various departments can meet their national accreditation standards. Such sudden loss of resources could thus also imperil the accreditation for some of our programs and devalue the degrees that our students are working so hard to obtain.
On the whole while this drastic decision has just recently been conveyed to the library, if nothing is done and if these cuts do go into effect, the faculty and the students are likely to be the biggest losers. It is imperative on us to come together and help the library and to convince our administration that defunding the UNT library is not the right way to achieve the four bold goals that they keep talking about.
We have created this blog and a Facebook page to reach as many of you as possible. Please join us, share your views, and help us launch a collective strategy to restore funding for our library.
(Posted from Save the UNT Library)
Petition Link: http://www.change.org/petitions/save-unt-library