Library cuts books, materials and databases

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The budget was reduced by $116,164.

By Alyssa Zapata

Cuts to the library’s materials budget for this academic year have resulted in fewer databases and reductions in acquisition of books and other materials.

The 2014-15 budget plummeted below $400,000, said reference librarian Tom Bahlinger, who manages the budget.

The 2014-15 materials budget is $370,000, which is the lowest it has been in four years, Juanita Lewis, learning resource specialist, said.

Bahlinger said this is not the biggest cut the library has had, but the total materials budget is less than the 2013-14 budget of $486,164.

In 2011-12, the materials budget was cut to $450,000, which The Ranger reported was the biggest reduction in recent years. In 2010-11, the budget was about $400,000.

This budget must be split among materials, books and databases. Three databases were identified for cancellation, but one was restored. America: History and Life and MLA International Bibliography will no longer be accessible.

Safari Books Online, which cost $11,525 for an annual subscription, was cut, but after a faculty complaint, librarians negotiated for restoration at half price, Bahlinger said.

However, the library cannot promise to have this database again next year because of the increasing prices and uncertainty about the library’s budget.

As of 1994, the Alamo Community College District took over the library and other department budgets. Librarians submit a budget each year, but the college administration determines the amount the library receives, library director Alice Johnson said.

She recalls students began paying a library fee that year of no more than $2 a semester, which ended five or six years ago.

“District gives us a budget and our college decides how they’re going to spend it,” Johnson said.

When the library makes cuts, librarians review database usage. They consider databases like America: History and Life essential to the history department, but also must weigh those needs against available funding, Bahlinger said.

Other cuts include the reduction of librarians from at least 12 full-time to five full-time and two part-time, he said.

Retiring librarians were not replaced.


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