Faculty to consider setting up library donation fund

Recent budget cuts have reduced the number of journals, research papers, essays and publications available, dropping the University of Washington’s libraries out of the top 15 percent of the Association of Research Libraries’ rankings for the first time since 1932 last year.

With the budget cuts adversely affecting the University of Washington libraries, the UW faculty has provided a response. The Faculty Council on University Libraries (FCUL) suggested creating a philanthropic fund for faculty to donate directly to the UW libraries, which was approved by the Faculty Senate Executive Committee in its meeting Monday and will now head to the Senate, which meets next on March 10.

The Faculty Fund for Library Excellence (FFLE) would allow faculty to personally donate to the libraries in a separate faculty fund. As a benefit of donating, individual faculty would be able to request what they would like the libraries to order.

FCUL Chair Joyce Cooper said she thinks the fund will unite faculty toward a common goal of enhancing student learning and improving the UW library’s quality.

“Through the FFLE, books, journals and other materials will be retained and acquired, and unique materials will be preserved and digitized,” Cooper said in an e-mail. “I also think the FFLE provides a great opportunity for both current and emeritus faculty to come together to support something great, something that is so important to all of us, and something that is so important to UW undergraduate and graduate students.”

Faculty Senate Chair and professor of geography J.W. Harrington Jr. said how valuable libraries are for faculty.

“Faculty rely heavily on the Libraries for our research and teaching even if, like many students, we often use Library services without even being in a library building,” Harrington said in an e-mail.

Professor and FCUL member Mark Kot, who drafted the statement about the FFLE to the faculty, said the fund was created for faculty members to give back to the libraries they have always depended upon.

“As members of the FCUL, we thought a Faculty Fund for Library Excellence would be a great way to express our appreciation to the Libraries and to help the Libraries further develop its excellent collection of books, journals and other materials,” Kot said in an e-mail.

The library earns $1 million to $1.5 million annually in donations, and Kot plans to make donating easier for faculty by offering payroll deductions and the ability to donate online, which would be useful for emeritus and retired professors, who might not be on campus as often as other faculty.

Harrington doesn’t expect faculty donations to become the bulk of library financing, but does expect his colleagues to make an impact.

“We certainly expect the major support for Libraries’ financing to come from the state, tuition and indirect costs recovered from research grants,” Harrington said. “However, many colleagues are both very concerned about the Libraries’ collections and services, and [will be] very generous.”

Reach reporter Ravi Venkataraman at news@dailyuw.com.

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