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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Library in crisis; scores at 11

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about university priorities, divided as they sometimes are between education and athletics.

Groucho Marx, as Professor Wagstaff, once reportedly said something like this:
"We want a university our football team can be proud of."
The line is often mistakenly credited to former University of Oklahoma governor and university president David Boren. Even at Oklahoma, however, former school president George Cross said it first, in the 1950s.

If one has access to the right database, this history is noted by R.J.Lambrose, "The Abusable Past" Issue 80, Spring 2001, Radical History Review (p. 159).

Ah, about those databases. Irony time.

My school's student Louisville Cardinal reported on February 14 that the university's libraries face massive debt and may have to cut journal database access:
Rising costs of subscriptions for both hard copies and electronic versions of scholarly journals and research databases have created budget woes for the library, which is now $500,000 - $600,000 behind in subscription payments, said U of L Dean of Libraries Hannelore Rader. While no subscriptions to scholarly journals have been permanently deactivated, if funds are not identified soon, cuts will have to be made, she said.

...Rader said that access to popular research databases Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe and JSTOR were recently suspended for about a day. However, Rader was able to identify additional funding that allowed the library to pay those subscriptions — at least for a while. “This year we thought, ‘Oh my God, can we get any more money?’” she said. “In order to pay for these in years to come, our base budget needs at least another million dollars.”
As my readers know, however, my university now has a new Elaine Chou auditorium, part of a $14 million library construction project. Indeed, anyone who visits the campus can readily see a fair amount of new building construction lately.

Where is the cash for the ideas? The books, the faculty, the journal databases?

The student newspaper article quotes an administration spokesperson, John Drees, saying that the university is underfunded by $52 million compared to average benchmark institutions.

The university athletic teams, by contrast, have a brand new Natatorium (2005), even newer multi-sport indoor practice facility (2005), a new baseball stadium (2005), a new women's softball stadium (2000), a new field hockey stadium (2000), a new soccer and track facility (2000), a new football stadium (2000), and not-at-all old tennis center (1994).

Oh, and how could I forget the very recently opened Cardinal Club Golf Course?
The Cardinal Club also offers every amenity associated with the world's most prestigous private clubs.
No wonder the jealous basketball fans are demanding a new arena, eh?

Dammit, we must have skyboxes!

What about that half million for journals at the library?

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