Wednesday, April 30, 2008

McKeldin, My McKeldin

It's almost like they knew this was going to happen... DBK is absolutely right in their staff editorial. We know funds are tight - they're tight for everything. But we need to fund our libraries, and part of that is infrastructure (a topic not addressed in the staff ed). While the article points out that this was a result of actually doing work on the building, the point remains, as FM had to stop work due to lacking parts.

This lack of funding does not only result in fewer hard copy and electronic collections, but the loss of our current collections due to faulty ceilings. Residence halls aren't the only buildings on campus that need renovations. Just ask a BSOS major.

Matt Graves offers some reactions to the staff ed. I, too, must confess ignorance at the way our libraries are funded in their totality. If it's anything like other non-self-support departments on campus (some self-supports include DRL, DDS, DRF), then funding comes from a multitude of places - auxiliary student fees, tuition, redirected cost containment funds, private funders, budgeted and dedicated state funding, etcetera. I have to disagree with Graves on a key point, though.

His idea that department/college-specific journals should be paid for only by those colleges is another great ideology versus practice problem. It sounds good, right, to let (force) only the people who use the service to purchase it? It is good, I will concede, in an absolute world. But in a University setting, we subsidize one another for the good of the whole. It's a bummer, but it's a reality: it costs way more to produce a wind tunnel than a long-winded history professor, and I'm getting no discounts spending my time in Key instead.

(Cost containment is, of course, a different issue.)

Ultimately, both the DBK and Graves are right, if you make the connection: we need more money. Frankly, students are paying more than they can currently afford for college, and nationally I worry we're rapidly approaching a point that will make the "opportunity cost/it'll be worth it after you graduate" argument not quite as persuasive, especially to lower-income students.

My recommendation would be to spend a lot of time and effort lobbying in Annapolis for more money, cliche as it sounds. Add this library incident to the list of things about which you'll testify.

Update: See Tim Hackman's addendum to the DBK's editorial

Posted by: Sumner Handy, President

1 comment:

Tim said...

Thanks, Sumner, for your posting on the state of the Libraries. I was pleased to see the standing ovation at last week's Senate meeting after reading the Libraries' statement, and doubly pleased to read the Diamondback's supportive editorial. I've posted some comments on their editorial over at DBK Online: