Cuts force Library administrators to get creative

Facing a cut of nearly half a million dollars, administrators at USF’s Tampa Library have already reduced hours of operation and are finding ways to further cut costs.

While no one was laid off because of reductions, there were a total of eight vacant positions that were frozen, said Director of Collection Analysis and Technical Services Todd Chavez.

There is one less position in both the serial check-in and government documents areas, and according to Chavez, he no longer has an administrative assistant.

Administrators were in the process of filling the positions when the hiring freeze was enforced.

“We are never fully staffed at one time; no organization is ever completely and fully staffed. There are always going to be positions that are vacant,” said Library Communications Director Skye Rodgers. “And then we had a couple of new positions that we just acquired that we were sort of forced to give up before they got off the ground.”

In addition to closing the Library at midnight Sunday through Thursday and freezing positions, the Library is cutting back on the types and number of books it purchases.

Leisure books such as New York Times bestsellers that are not related to courses provided by the University will no longer be purchased. This, according to Rodgers, is “a necessary evil.”

“What we did was we stopped with our leisure books; it had to go first. I’m not real happy about that either, but it’s not necessary to our mission-critical work,” she said.

Previously, a publishing house picked out books based on a generic profile that reflected the courses and programs offered at the University. Now, however, librarians sort through lists and pick new books by hand.

“It does take extra time to do it, but when you are in a situation where you are literally watching every dollar that is spent very carefully, you really need to do that,” Chavez said.

Chavez has not yet seen any changes for the money

dedicated to books.

“There are cost increases from year to year, so if the budget stays level, even if it was exactly what it was in the previous year – it doesn’t show any increase – it’s what’s called a structural budget reduction, because the costs are going up,” said Chavez.

This may not be the last budget reduction the Library faces, Chavez said. They might see another reduction later in the year.

In preparation for potential cuts, Library administrators have slowed down their acquisitions. They will only spend 25 percent of their budget between now and January 2008.

“In that way, if there is another budget reduction later in the year, then we will not have to be put in a position where we can’t give the money back, because we would have already spent it,” Chavez said.