Regents halt new library discussion

Meghann Anderson
Staff writer

Discussions of a new library were brought to a halt at the March 2 Board of Regents meeting, after more than six months of debate on the part of administrators and Student Government Association senators.

Five blueprints lined the conference table where the Regents met in Pogue Library. President Randy Dunn had planned to give a presentation promoting the new library project but Board members told Dunn they thought it was best if he held off the presentation.

Stephen Williams, chair of the Finance Committee, said the consideration of the library will be suspended indefinitely. Any pursuit or activities to help finance this project will also be suspended until the Board knows more about the project and the timing, both internally and externally.

Dunn said he was somewhat disappointed by the action because it shut off an avenue for funding of the library, new facility or any other project.

“All this would have done would maintain an option to explore this in the future,” Dunn said. “At this point, the option is not there.”

He said it will be put on the back burner and any move to do work on the library will be dependent on further discussions.

Adam Murray, dean of University libraries, said the faculty and staff of the University Libraries want to provide the best possible services to the University community.

Murray said a study conducted in 2008 for the Council on Postsecondary Education listed Waterfield Library as one of the top 10 worst facilities on campus.

The library has about 3,700 to 4,000 visitors per day and annual door counts exceed those of the Wellness Center by nearly three times.

Waterfield’s capacity, electrical issues, Americans with Disabilities Act compliance and structural issues will continue to restrict its ability to best serve the needs of the University community.

Josh Jacobs, chief of staff, said only time will tell if the Board is not interested in discussing options to fund the library.

“The Board made it clear in the discussion they are not ready to discuss the need for a new library at this time,” Jacobs said. “They did not present the prepared presentation and instead acted to halt all actions to accomplish this item, which was established as a priority of the board from the board’s August retreat and meeting.”

“The likelihood of the project getting funded by the state in the near future is limited,” Jacobs said. “The No.1 state-funded priority is the third phase of the science, engineering and physics building.”

Don Robertson, vice president of Student Affairs, said he thinks the need for a new library is pressing.

“It would allow us to consolidate all of our student services into a facility like Waterfield, which I think which would be a great benefit to students,” Robertson said. “I hate to see all of that delayed.”

Student Government Association President Jeremiah Johnson said the Board of Regents is student-oriented and had in mind the effects the fee would have on the students.

Johnson said the Board does not want to raise tuition any more than it has to.

“At this time without further research, I cannot support the use of student fees for the library or any academic building for that matter,” Johnson said. “But I would love to see the option stay open for student facilities. I’m just not completely sold.”

He said he thinks it is a good thing the Board is looking into and how the state is functioning.

“I know there are students that want the library and students that don’t,” Johnson said. “From what I’ve received via students coming to my office, a lot of students are afraid of paying that much for a library that they’re not going to see.”

If the plan would have been passed, students would see approximately a $90 fee just for the library.

“We can’t see adding a student fee onto students who can barely make it as it is anyway,” Johnson said. “The library is not the right place for the student fee right now.”