Donation lessens major library budget cuts, but bigger issues remain

UConn's Homer Babbidge Library is seen on the Storrs campus. (Allen Lang/The Daily Campus)

The cuts to University of Connecticut library collections that were expected for the fiscal year 2017 have been forestalled thanks to a large donation, said the professor who led the faculty protest against the cuts.

The news broke while statewide cuts continue to call into question the financial future of the university at large.

“I’m authorized to say no collections will be cut [for FY 2017],” said Jennifer Terni, a professor in the Literatures, Cultures & Languages Department.

This new money comes from a “one-time source,” Terni said. The provider’s identity is not yet public, nor is the exact amount of money received. Terni confirmed that it roughly covers the projected $600,000 for FY 2017.

The library expected those cuts for FY 2017 since at least October of last year, Vice Provost for University Libraries Martha Bedard said. At the same time, she said there would be cuts of $1.2 million over fiscal year 2016, which added up to $1.8 million over the two years.

Terni expressed faculty concern at the cuts in an open letter, which gained over 300 professors’ signatures. Terni and Bedard have been in discussions over the cuts since.

“We’ve forestalled for the short term but we’re still looking at longer-term solutions,” Terni said.

Terni reiterated concern she’d expressed in October that UConn libraries have been underfunded compared to similar institutions for years.

At a meeting of the University Senate on March 3, 2014, Bedard gave a presentation, “State of the UConn Libraries.” The presentation showed that UConn libraries’ staffing and materials expenditures, for every year between 2008 and 2013, were lower than eight “peer institutions” designated by UConn’s own Academic Plan website.

Terni expressed further concern that even as the library situation begins to look more promising, the university as a whole might be facing major cuts in the next few months.

“On the one hand we’ve had this victory of the faculty and university coming together to protect a research and symbolic pillar for the university across all disciplines,” Terni said. “But what happened at the library, which we’ve temporarily forestalled, could be happening all over the university with these cuts [from the state].”

Gov. Dannel Malloy’s proposed state budget, released Feb. 3, would cut $31.2 million from UConn and UConn Health Center over the next fiscal year.

“The problem is not confined to this one year alone,” wrote UConn President Susan Herbst in a letter to the student body. “The larger issue is that this cut, if adopted, would contribute to a combined total loss of $139 million for UConn – including UConn Health – over the last seven years, all due to state cuts, rescissions and fund sweeps.”

UConn’s Undergraduate Student Government sent out an email Monday afternoon to all students asking them to attend the state Appropriations Committee Informational Hearing regarding UConn’s budget on Feb. 10. Buses provided by USG will depart Storrs at 2:30 p.m. and expect to return by 7:45 p.m.

“Students and faculty will need to get mobilized and work together,” Terni said.


Christopher McDermott is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at christopher.mcdermott@uconn.edu. He tweets @cremcdermott.