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Odegaard’s 24-hour service won’t be cut: Other libraries’ will be scaled back to make up for costs

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2007-2008 Library Gate Count

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Senior Jon Kim walks out of Odegaard Undergraduate Library. Despite budget cuts, Odegaard will retain its overnight hours through the 2010 fiscal year.

At the start of spring quarter, students voiced concerns about the possibility of Odegaard Undergraduate Library cutting its 24-hour service if faced with 12 percent budget cuts. So when the Office of Budgeting and Planning presented 12 percent cuts to the libraries at the Board of Regents meeting earlier this month, it seemed that students would need to find a new 24-hour study haven.

However, despite the cuts, University Libraries has decided that due to the high popularity of Odegaard’s overnight hours, it will be keeping the service available through the 2010 fiscal year.

“It’s definitely going to be open,” said Cynthia Fugate, associate dean of Libraries for Research and Instructional Services. “It was one of the possible strategies on the budget scenarios, but we didn’t have to do that.”

Fugate said that the University Libraries only had to look at the sheer numbers of students utilizing Odegaard in order to make its decision not to cut its overnight hours.

“People are voting with their feet,” Fugate said. “We looked at our data, and the number of people that use Odegaard in any given day is astounding. It’s upwards of 10,000 people, and in many cases, we have over 1,000 people overnight. That tells us it’s a pretty important place to keep open.”

Lizabeth Wilson, dean of University Libraries, said that they’re looking for other ways to scale back on costs to allow for the $130,000 that it takes to fund Odegaard’s 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. overnight hours annually. University Libraries is listening to the UW community’s input as a gauge of where to keep services and make cuts.

“We know a lot about how libraries are used these days,” Wilson said. “We’re listening to the priorities that student, faculty and staff have answered through surveys.”

The surveys, along with the fact that Odegaard has robust computing access in comparison to the other campus libraries, have all played a role in the decision to keep Odegaard’s hours the same.

However, Wilson notes that with cuts amounting to $3.6 million, University Libraries will have to implement noticeable reductions in services in other areas.

“We’ll lessen the impact as much as possible, but we’ll see some of our smaller libraries closing earlier in the evening and with fewer weekend hours,” Wilson said. “We may have some trimming of Suzzallo and Allen hours on the weekends.”

One of the rationales to keep Odegaard’s hours the same, and make cuts to Suzzallo-Allen, comes from the fact that Odegaard is comparatively more cost efficient.

“Staff-wise, it’s less expensive to keep Odegaard open,” Wilson said. “It has one entrance, while Suzzallo-Allen has four. Just to manage the building takes more bodies.”

The library has also tried to find savings in consolidating other smaller libraries, including the Fisheries-Oceanography Library and the Chemistry Library, both of which are scheduled to close at the end of spring quarter. While University Libraries had also scheduled the Physics-Astronomy Library (PAL) to be consolidated, PAL library administrators are trying to avoid that fate.

“We’re still in conversation with them,” Fugate said. “They’re making some counter-proposals we’re considering.”

Wilson said that University Libraries had also kept the 14 percent undergraduate tuition hikes in mind when cutting its services. University Libraries hopes to work for solutions to keep the UW’s libraries offering the same level of service.

“When we did the budget scenarios, we didn’t know what the tuition was going to be and what sort of impacts the budget cuts would have on students,” Wilson said. “We want to make sure to send the signals to students that we’re going to lessen the impacts on them as much as possible.”

Reach reporter Eric Staples at news@dailyuw.com.

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