***Editors Note: This article was printed in the May issue of the California Review
This article is the second in an ongoing series to inform and educate the undergraduate population at UC San Diego regarding the health and longevity of the library system and how stopping services and closing down facilities affects the average student.
As the next academic year (2011-2012) quickly approaches, the administrative staff for the UC San Diego libraries and collection is preparing for the closure and consolidation of many of its locations and services in order to adjust for the fourth straight year in a row in a cut to its overall operating budget, a net deduction of $7,854,000 (or 26% of their budget). No other UC San Diego department has over the last four years had to receive a quarter deduction in their total principle budget, especially while the cost of tuition has reached record highs.
On Tuesday, April 19th 2011, AS and GSA Presidents, Wafa Ben Hassine & Rodolfo John Alaniz respectfully, hosted with the Audrey Geisel University Librarian, Brian E. C. Schottlaender, the first public forum to hear the opinions and concerns with the current situation and to shed light on the severity on the situation. Mr. Schottlaender quickly highlighted in his open address on the library budget that the UC San Diego library system current budget is funded 86% by state funds, 10% by ICR (Indirect cost recovery) funds, and 4% by endowment funds verses the overall university which receives only 8-10% of its funds from the state.
The cuts proposed by Mr. Schottlaender seek to address the multiple properties under which the library system operates without jeopardizing the collections of UC San Diego. The closures are an attempt to create unified Literature and Science libraries similar to other universities. Self-Checkout machines (currently being tested in Geisel) will replace some personnel, such as circulation staff, and one of the last cuts mentioned was a 12% reduction of hours for the remaining (post-closure) libraries.
Mr. Schottlaender stated that notes from that presentation were to be emailed to the AS President Wafa Ben Hassine to be posted on the AS Web Site for continued student involvement and UC San Diego library transparency.
During the Question and Answer Segment of the Open Forum, the severity and hopelessness of the situation became very transparent. A selection of students from the
Revelle Student Council asked if students could rent or pay for the usage of CLICS to which Ben Hassine and Mr. Schottlaender said it was possible so long as a valid funding source was available. In addition, the question of a library fee referendum was raised. However, it was predicted to fail due to the perception by undergraduates that the administration is using these referendums in an attempt to have students to pay their salaries. In addition, Mr. Schottlaender explained that all buildings are owned by the campus within which they are located (ie. the SIO library by SIO and the Med School library by the UC San Diego Medical School). He also related that the existing libraries could rent out space in exchange for payment.
Then, when asked who was lobbying the capital, Mr. Schottlaender stated that the university and library have lobbyists who urge for more public funding for the school and library system in California. When asked who is to blame for the major budget issues today, the committee insinuated that it was the current failures of the California State Legislature and Republicans in general for the inability of that body to acquire a two thirds majority in order to raise taxes. Finally, when asked if the UCSD libraries are trying to separate themselves from state funding, the short answer given was yes although the long answer was that only so many endowment grants were available and many grants come with heavy stipulations and conditions.
In conclusion, in order for the libraries to fulfill their mission statement of providing the resources needed for all UC San Diego Students to succeed in their studies, a bipartisan effort between the student body and administration is required to weather these tough times without compromising or affecting library services any more than have already been cut. Without urgent yet well-reasoned action, our university will become a place where books are a luxury rather than a necessity for our undergraduate education.
Alex is a senior in Eleanor Roosevelt College double majoring in biochemistry and history.