USF’s Tampa campus Library had to resolve budget cut effects that hit the university last semester by reducing its operating hours and student-employee hours this semester. Many USF departments had a 5 percent cut, but the Library was faced with an overall 9 percent cut from its budget.
Jim Gray, acting director for the Library, said it lost about $450,000 from the summer and fall cuts combined that will not be returned. Gray and the Library faculty decided to trim 11 hours from the its weekly schedule of operation. The changes took place this week. This also caused Other Personnel Service (OPS) hours to be cut as well.
OPS, part-time employment that doesn’t offer benefits which is set aside for students, lost about $157,000 from its budget starting this month so some student work hours had to be reduced.
Gray said students’ work hours may be reduced from 20 to 15 hours, and positions that are now empty from graduate students who left last semester will not be replaced.
“Nobody is being laid off,” Gray said. “We tried to make this as painless as possible for the students.”
Gray said this semester, more federal, college, work-study students will be working at the Library because it does not pay those students’ wages since they work to pay off financial aid.
Derrie Perez, dean for USF Library Systems, said the decision to cut back Library hours was made by a team effort of faculty counting students in the Library during evening hours. Perez said based on the calculations, they decided to close the Library at midnight Sunday through Thursday rather than 1 a.m. On Fridays, the Library will close at 6 p.m. and on Saturdays at 5 p.m. With the new schedule in place, the Library closes three hours earlier than its old schedule.
“We found many people prefer to go home late,” Perez said. “For the few hours we are closing, we do not think it’s going to bother students.”
Sophomore Amanda Hamers said her study time is going to be cut down because she studies late at night, especially during finals week.
“I practically live here,” Hamers said. “Being a commuter makes it difficult to find time to use the library.”
The Library also lost a Florida distance learning Reference and Referral Center room that provided students with research assistance. The room, which was located on the fifth floor, was provided by the state to USF for distance learning students from community colleges, other state universities and USF.
It allowed students to place questions by phone or e-mail and to locate documents, such as journal articles. It also allowed students to search electronic sources and print documents.Matt Torrence, instructor librarian, said because the Library lost those services, it increased technology sources to assist students on the Internet. Torrence said the Library’s Web site, , will have additional chat hours for reference assistance and e-mail will be categorized by its request for help to easily direct questions.
“We hope students don’t notice a tremendous change,” Torrence said.
Perez said the Reference and Referral Center room was a place where students sent e-mail or phone calls, and now the services will be provided with the additional Internet services
“With technology we can take care of our own people now,” Perez said.
“The Library has always been dedicated to provide services.”Gray said the reference desks will always be open during the Library’s operating hours, whereas some universities close its reference department a few hours before closing.
There will also be a service number (1-866-550-8036) to answer distance learning students’ questions.Gray said the Library used to be open 106.5 hours weekly, which is longer than any other state university library and the 11 hours that are being cut are not that drastic.
“We may have fewer students shelving books,” Gray said. “(But) we do have trained, qualified people to provide services.”