$2M to arts and sciences

Rachel Cox, Staff Writer

President Mark Kennedy announced that UND will be allocating almost $2 million to the library, research and the colleges of Engineering and Mines and Arts and Sciences. Half of that money will be going to the Chester Fritz Library.

This money is not a donation. The president is simply using the existing university funds from the tuition increase. In May, Interim President Ed Schafer authorized the money raised from this to go toward priority areas at the university. That makes this a strategic investment rather than a donation. With this reinvestment, a lot of ground has been made, according to Stephanie Walker, Dean of Libraries and Information Resources. “In one year, President Kennedy has replaced almost 90 percent of the funding and purchasing power we had lost over the years, which is amazing,” Walker said.

Budget cuts combined with the rise in prices of databases and journals, has really put the library in a bind.

“We currently have 8.5 fewer positions in the library than we did in 2008,” Walker said. The money that normally would have been used for these employees has gone to collections.

With the new money coming in, the databases and journals that the students need for classes can still be paid for.

“Science and business databases tend to be the most costly,” Walker said.

With some of them costing half a million dollars or more, having an extra $1 million can do a lot.

The library gets an average of 200,000 visits annually. That doesn’t include the hundreds of thousands of virtual visits. But the last institution Walker worked at, which was similar to UND’s size, received around 850,000 annual library visits. With an updated library, Walker believes that this is a reasonable goal.

“After we renovate, my expectation is that usage will easily triple,” she said.

The Chester Fritz Library is not only a place for students, but also faculty and researchers. Having an updated library can be used as a strong recruitment tool for all. Without the money the library is receiving, cuts would have had to have been made. A lot of research, teaching and student learning alike would have been prevented. Walker felt like this reinvestment saved a lot of research resources.

“It was critical, and we’re deeply grateful,” she said.

Along with databases and journals, the library is looking at some renovations to be made. Some of the new features the library will be featuring are well-equipped study and collaboration spaces and new technology. According to Walker, the reference area on the 2nd floor of the library is the most utilized space. This area has already shown the beginning stages of the renovation, as most of the computers have gone missing. But in their place, there are tables where anyone can place their own laptops and work on their homework.

The renovations and new technology improvements will be taking place over the next few years. Although the $1 million going into the library’s budget is much appreciated by Walker and the library staff, it isn’t enough to fulfill the whole transformation. Walker is still seeking out other sources for possible donations so that they can raise enough money to finish the project.

Rachel Cox is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected]