North Texas Daily

Willis Library gets exemption from university hiring freeze

Willis Library gets exemption from university hiring freeze

November 27
23:37 2012

Jason Yang / Senior Staff Writer

A hiring freeze preventing UNT from taking on new faculty and staff has temporarily thawed at Willis Library, which is looking for someone to fill a recently vacated position.

Dean of Libraries Martin Halbert said he proposed a lift on the hiring freeze to UNT because of the void left by the departure of Annie Downey, the former head of research and instructional services at Willis.

“We are solely focusing on finding a replacement for Downey’s position,” Halbert said. “We are not creating new positions or looking to expand existing positions.”

UNT Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Warren Burggren said that student fees cover most of the library’s costs, so a lift on the hiring freeze wouldn’t affect UNT’s budget.

“We can’t collect fees and not use it, so we decided there was no justification with the library staff,” he said.

Fifty-five librarians and 81 full-time staff members administer the Willis Library, according to the UNT Fact Book.

The university hiring freeze has been in place since August.

Andrew Harris, vice president for finance and administration, said the university doesn’t have a set date for the end of the overall freeze.

“We are making regular assessments and aligning the pace of hiring new employees with total enrollment and revenue from other sources,” Harris said.

He said the university would make exceptions for vital positions, but stressed that any decision to make new hires would ultimately be determined at a vice presidential level.

“It’s important to note that the freeze is a prudent practice to be engaged in the reflection of the overall situation in leveling enrollment and financial expenses,” Harris said.

Halbert said UNT Libraries’ budget has dropped in recent years, coinciding with a decline in student enrollment.
Although the library is exempt from the hiring freeze, Halbert said the library’s main concern involves the library budget, which has been coinciding with the decline in enrollment.

Halbert said the library has been working with a deficit for the last year and has had to make cuts to get by.
Each semester, students pay $16.50 per semester hour – capped off at 12 hours – in library fees, unless the students have waivers or are on scholarships, Halbert said.

“Willis Library doesn’t receive state funds unlike libraries at other universities. UNT supplies a small percentage, and the rest comes from student fees,” Halbert said. “We already have to cancel a few journals and delete duplicate copies on different platforms.”

Total library expenditures in 2011 added up to more than $17.7 million, according to the UNT Fact Book.
Halbert said the library is looking into fundraising opportunities and other methods to increase its budget.

“Our faculty, staff and students deserve the same level of benefit as other universities,” he said.

Halbert said he understands that funds are right, but said that UNT has been extremely supportive of UNT Libraries, and is making the most of the current budget.

“It’s important to keep the level of service we’ve been providing for the past few years because the students here are diligent and hard workers,” Halbert said. “We need to provide our best for them.”

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