Libraries face funding difficulties

Clarion University’s library system has undergone numerous budget cuts and issues in the past few years. These issues come out of state funding cuts to the PASSHE system, and the university funding is distributed in relation to enrollment, which has been steadily declining at Clarion in recent years.

Although efforts to boost enrollment, including the addition of new eateries on campus and the building of the new Suites on Main living facilities, programs in the university are still feeling the impact of smaller enrollment numbers.

Beyond this, the library has seen numerous cuts in programs and resources. A library budget reductions report dating from Feb. 17, showing 79 cancelled journal subscriptions and five cancelled database subscriptions. These cuts saved the library $37,830 and $15,990 respectively. Aside from these cut resources, the library also saw book and media purchase reductions of $34,117 recently according to the report.

Clarion University's library system has suffered from a lack of funding in recent times.
Clarion University’s library system has suffered from a lack of funding in recent times.

One critical issue the library faces is the inverse relationship between enrollment and program costs; enrollment is going down among students, but prices for resources continue to increase exponentially each year. According to the same library budget reductions form, journal and database subscriptions increase around 5 percent every year, essentially making it impossible for the library to stay subscribed to every single journal it would like.

However, Clarion University is recognized as a “small school” by the Keystone Library Network of PASSHE, making it eligible for a lower “Payment on Behalf of Services” charge, saving them $7,313 annually according to the form.

Dr. Terry Latour, Dean of Libraries, said that the library works around these budget cuts with technology and interlibrary loaning. New technologies and database subscriptions allow the library to save on staff pay, and subscribing to online resources allows them to bypass the work it would normally take for library staff to catalog and maintain physical copies of books, articles or journals.

Interlibrary loaning allows the Clarion library to borrow books from other colleges, both PASSHE schools and private schools in Pennsylvania. This allows a student to request a book and have it shipped from one library to the Clarion library for their use, where upon it is returned back to the library after the student has finished using it.

Carlson Library has cut back on some physical resources due to state budget cuts.
Carlson Library has cut back on some physical resources due to state budget cuts.

Library faculty positions have seen a reduction of 25.6 percent fewer in less than six years, according to the library reductions budget from 2015-2016, and these staff cuts are the primary way the library has saved on money. Two library faculty positions vacated as of Feb. 5 totaled a savings of $181,000, exemplifying that staff cuts are the primary way to reduce costs.

Dr. Terry Latour also stated that the Clarion library system has a good relationship with the university and considers them to be “friends of the library,” citing that budget issues arise primarily from a lack of state funding.

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