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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Budget cuts may force UA library closure

    Leah Hartman and Erin Asselta, both theatre arts freshmen, sift through the stacks for books on contemporary theatre scenes Tuesday evening in the Main Library.
    Leah Hartman and Erin Asselta, both theatre arts freshmen, sift through the stacks for books on contemporary theatre scenes Tuesday evening in the Main Library.

    UA campus libraries are preparing for the impact of a likely 15 percent budget cut by exploring the possibilities of online modules, staff cuts and, maybe more drastically, closing a library.

    Carla Stoffle, dean of libraries and creative photography, said UA President Robert Shelton asked the libraries to prepare for a 15 percent budget cut.

    She said the reduction would happen in two parts: 5 percent this semester and 10 percent sometime after July 1.

    “”Right now, those are the things we know, but we are looking at other things that are a little more drastic,”” Stoffle said. “”I think students will feel the impact.””

    To explore the impact of more “”drastic”” cuts, Stoffle said the Library Budget Advisory Group will be meeting Thursday and Friday.

    “”It’s not set in stone, but it is to say, this is pretty much what it looks like,”” Stoffle said. “”(An example of) a drastic cut might be closing a library.””

    The advisory group is made up of library staff and administration and will serve to prepare a preliminary sketch of what steps the libraries will be taking to meet the projected budget cut.

    Stoffle would not comment further on other possible “”drastic”” cuts until after the meetings later this week.

    A more imminent threat of the initial proposed cuts would be the loss of 11 librarians and the elimination of five currently unfilled positions, Stoffle said.

    The libraries have been dealing with staff cuts since 2007, she said.

    In the beginning of 2007, the library’s staff was made up of 193 employees. In 2008 it dropped to 180. And with the projected 15 percent cut it could drop to 155, Stoffle said.

    “”We’ve been continually going down in the number of employees; it has been rather drastic in the past couple years,”” she said.

    One way the library will deal with the loss of employees is to replace librarians with less expensive staff members who will be available at the reference desks, she said.

    Stoffle said this would mean students would need to make appointments and wait longer to meet with librarians whose expertise would fit their field of research.

    One of the first casualties of the impending budget cuts will be a face-to-face instructional program meant to teach English 101 and 102 students how to navigate the library, Stoffle said. Instead, this program will soon be delivered as an online course.

    Anne-Marie Hall, director of the writing program in the department of English, said cutting the face-to-face instructional program has the potential to be a positive change.

    “”I don’t know what the reaction will be … We’re optimistic. If we play this right, students will actually enjoy it,”” Hall said.

    The instructional program currently serves to teach basic research skills to students enrolled in some English courses.

    Hall said, the new online modules are set to be tested in the fall semester of 2009, and would be structured as a one-credit course that will teach the research skills previously taught in the face-to-face program.

    She said this would be the first time the English writing department would require an online course. It would be set as part of the curriculum in spring 2010.

    Laura Rupprecht, a sociology senior, has experienced the current research training program from her honors English courses. She said this new online course may have potential for some students.

    “”For people who haven’t learned this stuff that might be more useful,”” Rupprecht said. “”I don’t think (honor students) are going to like it much.””

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