Editorial: Don't cut from the library

By Opinions Board
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, April 13, 2004

UA's librarians shouldn't have to come to work and decide what materials they are going to lose. But thanks to the rising costs of journal subscriptions and lack of additional funding, that's exactly what they are in the midst of doing.

The library expects to discontinue plans to order 7,000 new books, 3,000 journal subscriptions and $250,000 for electronic indexes over the next two years - which adds up to a 16 percent cut in resources. No subject will be left untouched by the plan. Talk about "Focused Excellence."

Certainly, there are other ways to solve this problem than to cut valuable journals and new books from the library's budget. There must be a better option.

UA researchers depend on these journals as tools to aid in their work. If this university wishes to remain a Research I institution, then it should have a world-class library that doesn't need to have materials taken away because of a budget shortfall.

While the estimated $1.3 million cut over the next two years is a big sum of money, UA's large and generous force of alumni would almost certainly be able to fork over the amount. This is the same group of people that gave $4.85 million to build an Alumni Plaza in the middle of campus; they can find the money. Campaign Arizona raised $1 billion in less than a decade. With that kind of alumni funding force behind it, surely the library's fiscal failure could be relegated to the annals of history.

Don't want to hit up the alums for more sums? Why not institute a student library fee? The hotly debated and ultimately rejected student activity fee would have generated between $1.2 million and $1.4 million per year by implementing a $30 fee. Why not do the same for a much worthier cause: saving the library? Give students the chance to further enhance their own education. It's a small price to pay for some big rewards.

A loaded library is a staple of any university. As the UA continues to try to become an even stronger academic institution, the library must be given the resources to expand its materials. Our researchers deserve more. What kind of message does this send to students, faculty and - almost as importantly - prospective world-class faculty members?

The Association of Research Libraries ranks the UA's library as No. 27 out of 123 large, research-based university libraries. That number should be moving up, not down. A commitment must be made to giving the library the funding it needs.

The challenge is steep, but with everyone's participation, we can make the effort to save the library one for the books.

Opinions are determined by the Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Shane Dale, Caitlin Hall, Saul Loeb, Jason Poreda, Justin St. Germain and Eliza Tebo.