UC Berkeley announces $4.6 million of additional funding for library

Michael Drummond/File
Michael Drummond/File

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UC Berkeley officials affirmed the preeminent position of the library as the university’s hub for information and research Monday by announcing new plans to bolster its financial backing, the culmination of a two-year effort to reinvigorate the library system.

Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer announced $4.6 million in additional campus funding for the library — which includes Doe and Moffitt Libraries, as well as all subject specialty, affiliated and stand-alone campus libraries — in an email to students, staff and faculty that alluded to a long history of past efforts to improve library services and expand its catalog. The plans, slated to be implemented in 2014-15, also call for $1 million from campus deans and $1 million in savings from reorganization and redeployment of library resources.

“It’s been a real jewel for Berkeley to have our library,” said Elizabeth Deakin, chair of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate. “That’s why we’re willing to stretch ourselves to find funding to make sure that we’re able to keep it a great library.”

The announcement follows the October release of the report from the Commission on the Future of the UC Berkeley Library. After students and faculty voiced concerns in September 2012 about the library’s ability to serve the campus, Breslauer and Christina Maslach, then-chair of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate, created the commission to assess the library’s performance in a range of services on campus.

Citing budget cuts that toppled UC Berkeley from its 2003 third-place ranking in library investment among several major research libraries to eighth place by 2011, according to one library association’s index, the report called for significant funding increases, longer hours of operation, more staff and the development of an online library-literacy course, among other projects.

Although the report proposed keeping Moffitt Library open 24 hours daily and despite the new plan’s call for the expansion of its hours, Breslauer’s announcement does not specify how many hours will be added.

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After the release of the report, Breslauer engaged in months of discussions with Deakin, Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, Vice Provost for the Faculty Janet Broughton, University Librarian Tom Leonard and others before finalizing and releasing the new plans.

“This is good news for everyone on campus who walks into the library,” Leonard said in an email.

Other aspects of the new funding strategy include the Campaign for the Berkeley Library, a long-term fundraising operation that aims to produce several million dollars per year in increased funds within the next decade. The campaign recently kicked off by securing a multimillion-dollar gift of discretionary funds to the library.

Faculty — asked to voluntarily contribute about $500,000 total annually under the plan — are given $4,000 per year to spend on research if they do not hold an endowed chair, according to Breslauer. Deakin suggested some of these funds might be used to purchase books and journals for research that could then become part of the library, benefitting the entire campus.

“What we’re asking the faculty to do is to step up their efforts,” Deakin said. “We’re just starting that brainstorming process, but I think we’ll come up with some good ideas.”

UC Berkeley senior Natalie Gavello, who worked closely with students, faculty and campus officials on library issues during the last academic year as ASUC academic affairs vice president, said she was excited when she saw the new plans.

“I’m really thrilled to see that the chancellor recognized how the libraries play a role in the university’s education system,” she said. “It keeps Berkeley looking good, and it keeps our degrees looking great.”

Staff writer Somin Park contributed to this report.

Contact Connor Grubaugh at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @ConnorGrubaugh.