Florida A&M libraries at risk due to weak economy

The Friends of FAMU Libraries’ fund has raised money for Coleman Library since 1999, but for the past two years the organization’s president, Margaret B. Jones, has noticed a sharp decline in contributions. She blamed the changes on the failing economy.Jones, who is also a retired Florida A&M librarian, said the organization collected $6,000 during the 2006-2007 school year. Jones said that this year, “less than $500 has been raised.”

Priscilla Henry, treasurer of FFL, said funds that the organization collects are allocated to book collections, new technology, staff developments and even managing resources.

“This organization can purchase things that the library can’t purchase for itself,” Henry said.

“Over the years FFL has purchased necessary library materials such as books, so we would love to have more students participate.”

Lyndsi Caldwell, a third – year political science student from Detroit, said she feels the library should always supply the resources students need.

“I had an instance where none of the printers were working in the entire library and I had to print a paper for class,” Caldwell said. “The library is supposed to be a resource center to utilize, but when students need to go to utilize it, things are not always available.”

According to Henry, the organization has 75 members, the majority of whom are alumni and members of the community; however, there are no student members. Henry recalls the organization having student members in the past.

“We had quite a few students at one point,” Henry said.

Jones said they held fairs to encourage student membership, but it is hard to reach students on a personal level.

“It’s real difficult to make students feel like family,” she said.

Jones said the organization’s mission is to assist the library in providing information and services to users by developing a strong system, serving as a sounding board on library issues, and advocating with the university administration.

“In the beginning the program was prosperous,” Jones said.

In a continued effort to support the library, FFL is inviting students and other individuals to join the organization through its annual membership fundraiser.

FFL’s theme for this year is, “Library Lovers Make Cents,” and encourages more people to join.

Cora Brown-Griffin, office manager of Coleman Library, said it is good for FAMU students and faculty to invest in the university.

“I think it’s a good idea that we try to support our own library,” she said. “The cents add up to dollars, and dollars add up to hundreds of dollars. Every little bit helps.”

Student membership fee for FFL is $10. Applications are available in Coleman Library.