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CONTACT: TOM SNEE
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e-mail: tom-snee@uiowa.edu

Release: Sept. 19, 2002

UI Works To Keep Library Strong, Even In Tight Budgets

While the University of Iowa's libraries have made numerous budget cuts in response to reduced state appropriations, library officials are working hard to make sure those cuts affect as few students and faculty members as possible.

"It demonstrates the importance that the university places on its libraries and how vitally important they are in creating a great institute for education and research," said Nancy Baker, university librarian, who oversees the university's Main Library and 11 branch facilities (the College of Law library is administered separately) . "The library staff see their libraries as the intellectual center of the campus so we want to be open whenever someone wants us to be open and provide whatever resources they need even with the knowledge that we cannot always do that."

Like all other university departments, the library recently made significant spending reductions after the state reduced its appropriation to the university as a result of a budget crisis of its own. The library cut 7.5 full-time equivalent positions, reduced operating hours at most of the 12 facilities, cancelled subscriptions to academic journals and cut back on the number of new books it will purchase this year.

The story is similar at university libraries across the country. The Chronicle of Higher Education recently reported that many libraries are facing budget cuts of anywhere between 5 and 20 percent, topped by the University of Massachusetts. The university's main Amherst campus recently cut its staff by 20 percent and its acquisitions budget by more than $1 million.

However, UI officials are structuring the library budget cuts in such a way as to minimize their impact on student and faculty use. For instance, $490,000 has been restored to the collections budget to help buy books and journals. And in late August, late night hours at the main library were restored after a request by UI Student Government leaders. The Main Library is once again open from midnight to 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday.

"I'm always heartened to be part of an institution that values its library so highly and recognizes its importance, even in tough budget times," Baker said.