Spending on books, staff down at the Lovejoy Library

With changing student enrollment, Lovejoy Library remains the same size as it was when it was built in 1965. With limited space and funding, administrators must make difficult decisions about what resources to offer.

Lovejoy Library offers a variety of research tools, including digitized archives and online databases, which are open to students, faculty, staff and others who are using the library to conduct research.

According to SIUE’s 2019 Fact Book, the library’s spending on current serial subscriptions and search services has increased by nearly $1 million between Fiscal Year 2014 and FY 2018.

The Fact Book also shows a decrease in funding toward books, serial backfiles and other materials. Spending for these resources has fallen from $133,021 in FY 2014 to $46,832 in FY 2018.

According to Interim Assistant Dean of Lovejoy Library Juliet Gray, this shift of funding from print formats to electronic resources is the result of several factors.

“There’s the preference that a lot of students and researchers have for the electronic because it is easily accessible from the computers, and then there are space issues in the library,” Gray said. “The library is becoming more and more popular, and students want to use the space, and so, when you have a library this size, which is limited in size … you have to weigh the needs and expectations of students and researchers to use the space.”

Senior computer science major Nicholas Sigmund, of Fenton, Missouri, agrees that online databases are more accessible for students, especially commuters; however, he also says he tends to use Google Scholar over library resources.

“The only time I’ve actually used the library’s database was when I took my English class my freshman year because [the professor] had us go to the library and actually use their system, but any other time I’ve just used Google Scholar,” Sigmund said. “[Databases] would definitely be easier to access [than resources in print], especially because I drive an hour to get to school. So, if I needed something that only the campus had, if I could get access to it online, then that would be great.”

The 2019 Fact Book also shows a decrease in spending on salaries and wages.

Spending dropped from $1,040,181 to $608,901 for librarians, from $1,058,741 to $825,744 for other staff and from $318,567 to $218,116 for student assistants from FY 2014 to FY 2018.

According to Interim Dean of Lovejoy Library Lydia Jackson, this decrease in expenditures for salaries and wages is due to vacant positions and trying to maintain journals and other resources.

“At one point, we had roughly 18 librarians, and we got down to eight librarians. And so, we’re strategically trying to increase the number of librarians, and we’ve done that. We’ve hired, over the last year, four librarians, and we have a new librarian starting in June. We anticipate hiring at least three more next fiscal year,” Jackson said. “And in terms of staffing, that has happened, too. With the rise in journal costs, we were trying to keep the journals and the databases, so some of those staff positions had been vacant for years, and we’re now in a position where we’re going to start filling those positions again. We’re going to fill, before June 30, three staff positions, and hopefully we’ll fill at least two or three next year.”

With increased foot traffic in Lovejoy following the installation of new seating and the extension of library hours, Jackson is hoping to secure more funding for future renovations and to gain more resources for students and researchers.

“We have asked for an increase in our library resource budget. The budget has not been released yet, and so we don’t know if we’re going to get anything. The chancellor and the provost, certainly, have made recommendations to UPBC, which is the University Planning and Budget Committee,” Jackson said. “And so, we don’t know yet – will we get additional funding? But certainly, the university has aggressively tried to assist us with hiring additional faculty and with enhancing our resources.”

 

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