In a bid to improve UC Berkeley libraries while mitigating fiscal deficits, library administrators have tasked teams of employees with exploring ways to continue library services and expand digital access to information in a more streamlined way.
After presenting the teams’ proposals to the Library Committee of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate in early May and soliciting feedback from students, faculty and staff, library administrators will select a new cost-effective service model in July, according to an email from University Librarian Tom Leonard.
Leonard added that the model will most likely increase efficiency through the campuswide Operational Excellence program.
In four years, the library has cut more than 70 staff positions due to a decrease in state funding to UC Berkeley, according to Leonard. Assuming relatively stable future budgets, the library would still need to reduce its workforce through attrition over the next three years in order to meet budget goals, the email states.
While the library spends about $8 million per year from private donations to add to existing collections, this money is not enough to combat the library’s budget deficit with reduced staffing already compromising library services, Leonard said in the email.
Margaretta Lovell, chair of the division Library Committee, said in an email that these budget cuts have yielded a status quo that is “unworkable,” could result in hours and staffing being curtailed in many libraries and may result in the closing of several subject specialty libraries.
“Personally I would hope that the Administration would redirect the $10 to $13 million with which the campus currently subsidizes Intercollegiate Athletic operations each year to restore the integrity this most central resource for the institution’s academic mission,” Lovell said in an email.
Such budget cuts have affected campus libraries before. In 2009, administrators limited 24-hour library access during exam time and eliminated Saturday hours in all but two libraries. Following a “study-in” that protested the cuts, administrators appropriated a total of $50,000 from parent donors to restore library hours.
Natalie Nunez, a freshman and information desk worker at Moffitt and Doe Libraries, said she thinks these protests were effective, especially because the library is “something that so many people use” and is a “priority for the school, the students and the staff.”
“If these libraries were to close, so many people would just be so angry,” Nunez said. “When I come in for the 1 to 5 p.m. shift – the first shift on Sunday – there is a swarm of people waiting outside; for a lot of people, it is their only place to study.”