Coleman Library suffers with university’s budget cuts for the upcoming year

The Coleman Library is bracing for budget cuts for the upcoming year, just like the other departments at FAMU.

Lauren B. Sapp, director of Florida A&M University Libraries, said the cuts will most heavily affect library staffing, but the action depends on the total budget the university receives.

“We will try to [make cuts] strategically, so as not to affect services,” Sapp said. “This may require reorganization and assigning of existing staff [and] shortening hours at branch libraries.”

Sapp said that one of the top priorities for the library is to improve printing and copying services for students. The initiative came in response to numerous complaints from students about limited student access to these materials.

Terrill Conner, 19, a freshman industrial engineering student from Avon Park, said he experienced a long wait to use the printer. Conner recalls arriving at the library 45 minutes before class to print an assignment, but the long wait caused issues.

“I had a lab report that was due in the morning and I needed to print it out,” Conner said. “There were like seven people in front of me. I ended up being five minutes late to class and couldn’t turn in my paper.”

The university has provided seven multi-functional printing and copying machines to the library. Students can use their rattler cards to access the machines, and the funds collected from the cards go directly back into the system to cover operational costs. Sapp said that while the machines are not fully equipped, she intends to have the machines ready when students return in the fall.

Sapp said she is confident that budget cuts will not impact the library’s ability to purchase library resources, such as textbooks, African-American literature and electronic journals. However, she did note that access to these journals is subject to change, depending on the final cuts.

Brenda Wright, assistant director for collection management, expressed her concern over tighter budget cuts that are implemented in circulation department.

“We haven’t gotten any word yet as to whether we’ll be cut anymore,” said Wright. “But, we’ve already been cut so much that if they cut us anymore, the collection will suffer.”

According to Wright, the library’s resource collection will continue to meet the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ [SACS] requirements “as long as the budget stays flat.” However, the library would not be able to purchase anything new.

“So far, everything is still adequate,” said Wright. “All we can do is meet all of the accreditation agency’s expectations…we really need an increase. What will happen if our budget stays the same, as it was last year, is that we’ll probably only be able to renew our current subscriptions.”

Sophomore economics student Trenton Patterson, 20, said he was unable to find a current volume of a book he needed in the library.

“One time I was looking for a scholarship book and all scholarship books were really outdated, like from the 1970s,” Patterson said. “The librarian didn’t have any information on it because those were the only books she could get.”

If the budget is further cut, the library will be unable to invest in leisure reading and novels for students. According to Wright, the library has popular magazines and novels that meet the requirements for African-American studies and literature courses, although it does not have a leisure reading section.

“We know [students] want to do more than just study,” Wright said. “We just don’t have anything you can just take and go to the beach and lay around and read, because we have to make sure we get you across the graduation line.”

Sapp said the library would still provide quality service to students.

“We are committed to provide the services that students need, including beefing up our information resources department,” Sapp said. “We want them to be successful.”