The UC Berkeley Library has revealed its plans for the 2022-23 academic year, with all but 11 libraries reducing hours and services.
A UC Berkeley Library press release cited a smaller staff, fewer resources and declining funding as reasons for the changes. According to the press release, student enrollment has increased by 40% since 2003, while library funding per student has decreased by 47%.
“Our funding has been falling for several decades,” said university librarian Jeff MacKie-Mason. “Given these long-term trends, and the severe financial constraints the university faces, we have no reason to expect the major increases in funding that would be required to return to the set of locations and services we had, say, before the pandemic.”
Moffitt Library, which closed spring 2022 for seismic upgrades, will reopen Aug. 22, the press release reads. Starting mid-September, the library will be open all day from Sunday through Friday.
However, five libraries — including the Anthropology Library and the Physics-Astronomy Library — will be cutting circulation services, while seven others will modify their hours, according to the press release.
“Reopening Moffitt Library will be a wonderful kickoff as we welcome students to the fall semester,” said senior associate university librarian Elizabeth Dupuis in an email. “Of course, we are still in a pandemic, and our hours and services may need to be adjusted on short notice throughout the year.”
According to MacKie-Mason, campus considered data on current usage of library services by students and faculty to determine individual modifications to the libraries. He claimed that reducing hours evenly across all locations is “inefficient and impractical,” calling it necessary to consolidate services instead.
MacKie-Mason also indicated that while the current changes are temporary, campus does not anticipate restoring library hours and services to its pre-pandemic levels.
The library’s collections budget is also facing a considerable reduction of $1.7 million over two years, according to the press release. The first year’s reduction will be concentrated toward print and digital books, media and data sets, while the second year will focus on subscription databases and journals.
The press release noted that the cutback is the third since 2016. The library anticipates releasing a reimagined vision for collecting in spring 2023, with opportunities for students, faculty and staff to share their thoughts on the efforts to scale back collections.
“The Library will continue to build select distinctive collections, and expand our work with partners across the University of California and beyond,” the press release reads. “By collaborating with others, the Library aims to better position itself not just as a repository where knowledge is held, but as a gateway to information and resources from across the world.”
Maya Jimenez contributed to this report.