When the library must make cuts, students bleed

Lanthorn Editorial Board

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When a person decides to further their education and pursue a degree, the availability of credible educational resources is just as important as which institution and which program they select. A well-organized and well-staffed library is arguably the single most important tool any student or scholar could ever utilize. That being said, Grand Valley State University’s lack of $800,000 to supplement the University Libraries budget by January 2020 would be counterproductive as it pertains to giving students and instructors the access they need to subscription-based academic journals and other valuable academic resources.

Associate Dean of Curation, Publishing and Preservation Services Jeffery Daniels said that out of the library’s approximate budget of $12 million, there is little wiggle room in finding ways to cut costs. Nearly $6 million of those funds supports faculty and staff and approximately $5.2 million is set aside for collections, with the remaining funds being used for library maintenance, upkeep and tech support. 

Daniels recognizes the importance of maintaining the library staff, which is comprised of research gurus who specialize in various disciplines and topics and are exceptionally helpful to students in writing/research-focused courses. It’s fortunate that faculty cuts will be avoided, especially as they will play a key role in providing students with resources to make up for subscriptions affected by the cuts. Having the cutting-edge subscription-based journals and databases the library provides for studentsis incredibly valuable.

In a time where education technology is improving exponentially, many courses require students to have access to online materials and submit assignments on Blackboard. Some instructors have even helped students save money on textbooks by utilizing resources found in the University Libraries’ online database rather than requiring a textbook purchase. When University Libraries is required to cut nearly one million dollars from the pool of information most students rely on to efficiently conduct research, analyze sources and access credible academic work, one must wonder where quality of education lies on the priority list when the budget is taken into consideration. 

Surveys sent out to instructors to determine what resources are utilized most will be collected soon. From there, University Libraries will determine which subscriptions to keep or cut, intentionally avoiding any services that have inflated prices over five percent in recent years. Inflation sucks, it really does, but GVSU must find a way to support the library. Open access to these journals and databases is truly invaluable for students, especially those who take online courses or don’t live close enough to campus to come to the library as needed. GVSU’s most recent and upcoming construction projects prove that there’s money to grow — cutting widely accessible educational resources will only hurt students, and perhaps potential enrollment rates.