Library budget cuts result in materials loss for students

By Sarah Siock

Staffing shortages and the loss of over 1,000 academic journals are just a few of the problems that have risen due to drastic budget cuts to the Franklin F. Moore and Talbott Music Libraries, according to university librarians.

The cuts will have a substantial impact on current journals in the library’s collection as the Moore Library’s budget will be reduced from $1.069 million to $776,000 for the 2022 fiscal year. The Talbott Library, which was previously located on Rider’s Princeton campus and is now housed inside Moore, will face a budget reduction from $115,000 to $97,000. As a result, the Moore Library is facing over $300,000 worth of library material cuts.

“These are considerable cuts. That particularly hurts the fields in the sciences, but the way that we had to make our cuts, it actually affects every single department and discipline,” said Sharon Whitfield, electronic resources and user access librarian for the Moore Library.

Whitfield said, due to the budget cuts, the library will lose access or be forced to cancel over 1,500 current single journals. Whitfield worried students will be forced to turn to outside resources with fewer options available in the library.

“We are in the era of disinformation. One of our major concerns is that it is just going to grow if they [students] don’t have immediate access to information. Where are they going to be going out to find their sources? That could also be a byproduct of making these types of cuts. They’re going from quality journals that are accessible here in the library, to quite frankly, some open access journals that may not be as reputable,” said Whitfield.

According to Whitfield, the library overall has 50% fewer staff to support library services. Faculty in the library has declined as well, with the Moore Library employing seven librarians and Talbott with four. Instruction and emerging technologies librarian for the Moore Library Heather Dalal said these numbers are a notable decline, pointing out that in 2019 the library had 10 faculty members. Staffing and faculty issues stem from not only layoffs in recent years, but the university not filling library positions after someone retires or leaves the job.

Dalal added that the library has continuously received budget cuts since 2008.

“We are all overworked,” Dalal said.

In September it was announced that the Moore and Talbott libraries would be closed on Saturdays. Dalal and Whitfield attributed the closure to a lack of staffing.

Dalal said, “They [the university] argued that it doesn’t have a lot of usage on Saturday. But the usage on Saturdays was always by students who really needed it. I mean it’s not fair to say, ‘go ahead and study in the 24-hour lounge instead.’ Because not only does the library offer a place of quiet, but the library offers professional help and access to resources.”

Cataloging Librarian for the Talbott Library Joshua Henry said the music library’s budget also continues to shrink. In 2019, the library’s budget was $151,000, which is $54,000 greater than it is today. Henry added that the music library’s new home inside the Moore Library created unforeseen security problems that were not taken into consideration before the move.

Henry said, “If, for some reason, Talbott Library needs to be closed when the Moore Library is open, there is no way for us to secure our circulation desk or to secure collections. That, unfortunately, is something that we have brought up to the administration several times, but there’s been no solution. So right now, it’s working in the sense that both libraries have the same hours, but that’s probably not going to remain the same in the future. And so that’s a problem.”

Associate Vice President for University Marketing and Communications Kristine Brown attributed the libraries’ cuts to a plethora of issues the university is facing.

Brown said, “The ongoing financial challenges related to declining enrollments, the pandemic and the university’s deficit led to budget reductions across the institution. Enrollment declines and external events, such as the pandemic, have led to budget cuts throughout the university. Once we are able to stabilize the institution’s finances, we will then be in a position to evaluate how to increase budget resources, particularly for areas that serve the institution’s mission.”

Whitfield, Dalal and Henry encouraged students to use resources available in the library, including the interlibrary loan system, to showcase what the library has to offer.

Dalal said, “Students should know that their librarian is here to help them. The more you come in and ask questions, chat with a librarian and use our services, the more data that we have to show how useful we are.”

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