Library survey shows impact of budget cuts

Data from the UAA/APU Consortium Library faculty and graduate student survey shows that the library is not meeting minimum expectations of the library in several areas. The undergraduate student survey showed that students felt their minimum expectations were being met.

“That to me is an unfortunate result, but it is exactly the result we were going to predict after cutting the library’s budget for three years,” Stephen Rollins, dean of the Consortium Library, said.

Cuts to the library budget have impacted staff positions and online offerings from the library. In fiscal year 2015, the library budget was cut by over $400,000. This was followed by steeper cuts in FY16 and FY17 of $602,423 and $741,320 respectively, according to the Consortium Library website. For FY18 the library faced a smaller reduction of $80,471.

Currently, the majority (92.5 percent) of the library budget is funded from general fund allocations. The other 7.5 percent of the budget comes from grants, donations, contracts with health care providers for the medical library downstairs and a partnership with Alaska Resources Library and Information Services.

In response to the survey, the library has expanded hours, allocated more money to the collections budget and brought back some materials that had been cut in previous years.

“There was a lot of concern about the hours again… so the first thing we did was added an hour to the schedule,” Rollins said. “We’re closing at midnight instead of 11 p.m.”

The survey showed that faculty rated the library low in the question of having “Print and/or electronic journal collections I require for my work.”

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In 2008, the library survey demonstrated that faculty and graduate students both felt the library was not meeting their minimum expectations for journal collections. By the next library survey in 2011, the library had devoted funding to this concern and was rated higher for meeting minimum expectations.

“We spent the next three years trying to beef up the collection, trying to get more money for the collection… By the time we’ve gotten to 2011, [concern has] gone away and then 2014 it’s gone away… 2014 was the year we started getting our budget cut. And here we are starting to get [concern] now showing up three years later,” Rollins said.

The library performed well in questions about the library as a place and the library service.

“Although they’re disappointed with the collections, I mean, their satisfaction with the collections is declining, they’re even more enjoying the building and enjoying the other services we provide,” Rebecca Moorman, head of Technical Services, said.

In the comments section of the survey, UAA students said their key concerns were library hours, noise levels, building temperatures, resources cut and lack of access to vending machines during after hours.

In response to these concerns, Rollins said “I think we need to look at the location of those vending machines,” so that students can access food in the Social Sciences Building after the library has pulled down the gate to secure the area.

Rollins said the library also tries to section off the building into differing levels of quiet zones for students with different needs.