Saved from the axe: GIL

Declining state revenues have forced the Georgia Board of Regents to deal with a six percent reduction in state funding to the 35 universities comprising the University System of Georgia (USG). One major campus resource this event will affect is the GALILEO Interconnected Libraries (GIL) Express library sharing system.

With the decrease in state funding, the Board of Regents had to search for a program that hadn’t already spent its money for the year, and GIL happened to be one such program.

According to the GIL website, it is a system offered to all libraries within the USG “that allows all students, faculty and staff access to all eligible circulating material at all USG libraries.” It lets students request books from other university libraries. The Board of Regents funds this system by paying for the shipping and postage costs of ordering books.

The initial decision was to cancel the program at the end of September, but Catherine Murray-Rust, dean and director of libraries, sent out an email to the Regents expressing her concern over the issue.

“[Many] other schools expressed concern as well… over the big impact it would have [on students],” said Robert Fox, associate director for Public and Administrative Service. The board has decided to continue GIL through the fall semester. According to Fox, GIL is still not off the table and “there is no guarantee it will be back for spring semester.”

In case GIL is cut, a contingency plan set up by the library will provide a similar service called the Iliad. The Iliad is similar to GIL, but it requires individual schools to pick up the postage and shipping costs of the system, a sum of up to $50,000 a year. The new system would also be much slower as it requires students to make out requests to librarians who would then have to manually put in their orders.

Numerous library resources besides the GIL are in danger. Online resources such as journals are housed in databases, which the library leases and has to pay fees to access. Tech pays some of the fees, but the Board of Regents pays for the rest. This means that several journals and databases, including ones that house GALILEO, are facing cuts. Fox said he expects an announcement by the end of October of which journals will be cut.

Student should still expect the library to continue running the same number of hours, as library staff members are working to minimize the effects of the budget situation.

The budget contractions are not exclusively focusing on the library. Tech is also looking at cutting classes that have had perennially low levels of enrollment, especially summer courses. Professors of those classes would be reassigned to other ones. Decisions to cut classes will be made pending further analysis. Plans to upgrade some labs might be deferred, but Interim Institute President Gary Schuster thought it would be a “mistake to cut back very strongly.”

Students will also see a delay in additional vans and buses. “The university system has made a decision that there will be no new vehicle purchases during this budget crisis,” Schuster said.