Lauinger Library’s budget was cut by $1 million for fiscal year 2016, requiring the library to reduce its principal collections of books to avoid staff layoffs.
In July 2015, the library took a 6-percent overall budget reduction as part of a broader university effort to reduce spending, according to University Librarian Artemis Kirk. In order to retain all library staff, the majority of the cuts were made from the library’s collections budget, which were cut by 17.5 percent.
The reduced collection was announced to university faculty in an email sent from library administrators Feb. 9 obtained by The Hoya.
“Cost-cutting has been a university-wide initiative with a goal of providing high-quality education in a sustainable way,” Kirk wrote in an email to The Hoya. “We focused on the collections budget as an area for increased savings. We did not reduce any library- or student-staffing.”
The library budget was cut as part of a university-wide effort of “providing high-quality education in a sustainable way,” according to Vice President of Finance David Rubenstein.
The cut is part of a larger series of cuts to the university budget, according to the email sent to faculty. K. Matthew Dames, associate university librarian for scholarly resources, said the $1 million reduction is unlikely to be reversed in future years.
“For the past several years, the Library’s budget consistently has been approximately of $17 to $17.5 million. With last fiscal year’s cut, it now is about $16 to $16.5 million,” Dames wrote in an email to The Hoya.
According to Dames, Lauinger will continue to invest in electronic databases, e-journals, e-books and research materials in an effort to remain committed to providing the Georgetown academic community with the resources necessary for learning, teaching and research.
“We have no way of knowing how much material we will be able to restore after we made the necessary cuts from collections to meet the $1 million reduction. The library has not recouped any of the $1 million it lost last fiscal year, and we are expecting that sum will not be restored for the foreseeable future,” Dames wrote.
Senior Director for Strategic Communications Rachel Pugh said the collections reductions were made carefully.
“The library managed the collections reduction very careful by reviewing usage, costs, availability through our consortia and in consultation with stakeholders on campus and off. Many other major research libraries had already reduced their budgets in an effort to contain the rising costs of research materials and to be able to acquire new tools within existing budgets,” Pugh wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Efficient budget management has allowed the library to continue operating with excellent support of faculty, students and staff.”
Faculty can appeal cuts made to the library’s resources in an effort to have them restored, according to the email sent to faculty.
According to Kirk, the cuts mirror a larger trend of cuts to research library spending in college campuses across the U.S. Yale University and Cornell University among others have made cuts to their library collection budgets.
“Many other major research libraries in the U.S. had already had budget cuts for a number of years. Georgetown’s reduction came later than other libraries’,” Kirk wrote.
Sophie Cutler (MSB ’20), who works at the library, said she feels the budgetary cuts place constraints placed on special collections.
“We just have books lying around that have no place,” Cutler said. “It’s still evident on the first floor, where you can go and you could be looking to put a book back and it physically cannot go on the shelf where it’s supposed to go.”
Kirk wrote that the library continues to be committed to excellence regardless of the cuts.
“As with other research libraries, we will continue to review our allocations to assure best use of funds,” Kirk said. “We must manage the rising costs of research materials and still acquire new resources as they are developed.”
Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.