|Weekly News Digest
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COVID-19 NEWS: 'Libraries Brace for Budget Cuts'
Lindsay McKenzie writes the following for Inside Higher Ed:
‘I’d be very surprised if any academic library escapes this situation without a cut or a freeze of one kind or another,’ said Rick Anderson, associate dean for collections and scholarly communication at the University of Utah, in an email. ‘The question is how deep the cuts will be, or how long the freezes will last.’
Predicting the fiscal impact of COVID-19 on higher education institutions at this stage is impossible, Anderson said. ‘We don’t even know for certain if our campus will be open for normal business by August or September of this year,’ he said.
The best-case scenario on most campuses is for budgets to remain static for the 2021 financial year, Anderson said. But he describes this … as a ‘highly optimistic scenario, one that assumes business as usual in the upcoming academic year, and minimal drop-offs in enrollment.’
A more likely scenario involves ‘significant cuts to ongoing budget allocations imposed across campus units, with specific campus directives as to how those cuts will be directed to personnel.’
Institutions such as the University of Virginia have already started to implement institutionwide hiring freezes as part of their effort to minimize the possible economic impact of COVID-19.
In a message to the campus, university president Jim Ryan pledged that the burden of cost cutting would be shared across the institution. All schools and units will cut or eliminate nonessential expenses. The university’s executive leadership team will take a 10 percent salary reduction, and capital projects that haven’t already started are on hold.
Librarians don’t expect to be spared.
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