Budget cuts constrain Polk Library resources

Adam Fishnick, Reporter

Cuts to Polk Library’s budget continue as the spring semester gets underway, causing the library to lose resources. Polk Library Director Sarah Neises said the price for online databases increases 3-5% each year, while budgets on campus rarely increase.

“This means we are continually needing to cut resources so that we stay within our budget,” she said.

Neises said increased subscription costs negatively impact the library because they can no longer afford the resources they had last year.

As a result, the library has “seen a shrinking electronic and print collection that is far below peer institutions,” Neises said. “Polk Library staff carefully curate collections to serve our users, and it is difficult to see them cut.”

Neises said Polk tries to cut low use, high cost materials first.

She said canceling subscriptions impacts students because they may no longer have access to the full text articles and streaming videos needed to complete assignments.

“When we lose access to subscriptions, we are forced to look for alternative articles or videos,” she said. “We can also try to use services like interlibrary loan and resource sharing to fulfill requests, but this forces students to plan ahead as these services may take several days.”

Neises said that having access to subscriptions and streaming video would be more difficult because the budget cuts could take away funding for those platforms. It also hurts the people requesting these platforms.

She added that American Chemical Society journals were funded for an additional five years and that the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers database used to be funded by the UW System, until recently.

April Lee
Polk Library budget cuts continue into the Spring semester, resulting in loss of resources.

“A decision was made at the UW System levels to stop paying for IEEE and shift the cost back to UW campuses,” she said. “We were unable to pick up the cost of this collection at this time due to budget cuts.”

Neises said that employees are impacted by the budget cuts because the staff value their collections.

“It is disappointing to staff when we lose access to full text journals and other key resources,” she said. “We continue to try to support student success by providing high quality service and making the most of the collections that we have.”

Neises said that the budget cut is impacting the library and UWO campus as a whole. By losing valued platforms, the library is losing business and funding.

“Polk Library budget cuts over the last decade and to begin the 2020 spring semester is a problem for us all. If we understand why budgets are being cut, we would understand that school budgets are from the federal and state governments and action may be needed to avoid this situation in the future.”