For students hoping to study in the library late on Thursday nights and weekends, you’re out of luck. Due to budget cuts, the library is now open nine hours less each week during those times.
But to many students, nine hours is just a minor portion of their time. It’s only a season of “Game of Thrones,” the amount of total time spent studying for an important exam or the hours spent sleeping on a good night.
So why should such a seemingly insignificant cut be on our minds?
Before students had the luxury of the internet or the smart phones in their hands, they spent hours in the library scouring books and periodicals to prepare for a project, write a paper or even to better understand a class topic. Now, students don’t need to spend their precious hours in the library, but can do research from virtually anywhere.
As more advancements are made to help students get information quickly and with few restrictions, it’s important to understand that the old library structure of shelves full of books isn’t going to attract people. Students aren’t going to spend hours flipping book pages for information when they can Google what they need: having relevant information within seconds.
But even in a digital age, libraries are crucial to educational success. Last spring alone, the library helped 4,360 students with instruction sessions and over 40 hours of one-on-one help. This fall, group study rooms are already filling up and becoming increasingly more difficult to book.
Our library administrators are investing in technologies like 3D printers, laptops and iPads for students to rent in the efforts of helping Pointers be successful.
Many students use the space to gather and work quietly, free of distractions from roommates or the hustle and bustle of coffee shops. Many can’t afford internet at their house so they go to the library for access. Many don’t have the tools, databases and access needed to research various topics without using the library’s online resources.
We need to recognize that libraries are learning centers, no matter the age.
Earlier this year, library administrators planned for a budget reduced by $75,000 in collections and $40,000 in student employment. This, along with the elimination of 2.5 positions, forced them to cut hours to save money.
Chancellor Bernie Patterson and the Budget Review Advisory Committee recently decided to restore part of the library’s previously cut budget, allowing its administration to invest $120,000 back in collections, $20,000 in student workers and retain one of the employees that was on the chopping block.
The library, as long as it continues to invest in technology, will continue to be a huge asset to UWSP. Patterson and the committee made the right decision in restoring money to the library’s budget and will hopefully continue to realize how important it is to students.
While the library shouldn’t be immune to budget cuts, it also shouldn’t be an easy target for potential savings.
So, although a small cut to library weekend hours probably won’t affect too many students, it’s important that funding the library continues to be a high priority because it is crucial to ensuring students are successful in their college careers.