Consortium Library After Hours cut due to budget woes

As early as August 29, paper signs were posted outside the UAA/APU Consortium Library entrances stating, “After Hours will not be offered this semester due to budget cuts.”

According to Steve Rollins, Dean of the Consortium Library, over the last three years, budget cuts to the library have continued to get deeper.

“We’ve lost, at this point, $1.7 million from the general fund. That’s about 28 percent of our general fund,” Rollins said. “Three years ago, we got cut $400,000, then it was $600,000, and then this year we’re in right now is $740,000 that’s been cut. We’ve cut collections, we’ve cut our book budget…”

Robin Hanson, Head of Access Services at the Consortium Library noted that many do not realize “…how many dollars we’ve lost, and our reductions in staff and the decisions we had to make.”

Signs stating that the Library After Hours would not be offered began appearing after August 29, the first day of classes in the 2016 Fall Semester. According to the Dean of the Library, it is unknown if the extended study hours will be able to be offered at the library again. Photo credit: Kathryn DuFresne

Genevieve Mina, biological sciences major, drafted an “Ode to Budget Cuts” on Facebook, parodying Martin Niemoller’s “First they came…” poem describing the perils of Nazi Germany, reaching in excess of 90 students online.

“When I saw that the Library After Hours were closed down it was just kinda a realization to me,” Mina said. “I know that budget cuts have been affecting this university, and I have a lot of friends who are in student government or who work with the board of regents, so I hear a lot about the different policy decisions that are happening. It’s never until you see services that you need getting cut where you’re just like ‘Oh yeah, these cuts are really bad.'”

Students took to not just to Facebook, but to Twitter and other social media outlets to voice their concerns.

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Overall, concern for the lack of After Hours is coming from students with full course-loads, or who work during the day who need a place to study at night

“For me, I was going to make this year my year to keep going to the library to get my work done, and so relying on library after hours was a big component of that,” Mina said.

According to Rollins, the service wasn’t as well used as many students believe it was.

“It was a very good service, but it really wasn’t as well attended particularly after about 11:30, because we were open until 1 a.m. Between midnight and one, we usually never had more than 40 people in the building, and this is a very large facility to keep open for that few people,” Rollins said.

Despite the inability to provide students with the library for late-night studying, Rollins hopes that he can work with the university to find an alternate option, stating that the reason they added After Hours was due to student requests.

“I think what we need to do on a university level is have a conversation about how can we provide an after hours facility on the campus. I think it’s needed, but the library may not be the right place, because we’re expensive to operate. I think there is a need to have study space after 10 p.m,” Rollins said. “It might be that we could figure out a way on campus for a different space that might only require one person. So I think that the library, we want to be part of the solution, we really do want to help.”

The UAA/APU Consortium Library hours are now 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday until Dec. 9.