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Students appeal for library $$

If the Utah Legislature handed over its checkbook to Utah college students, the first check they would write would be for books, periodicals and subscriptions to electronic journals for institutional libraries.

Addressing the Joint Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee, Damon Watkins, president of Associated Students of the University of Utah, said his own research has been hampered because many periodicals are outdated or never purchased because of funding cuts."If (students) had the power to appropriate funds as you do, the first place they would put those funds would be libraries," Watkins said.

The U.'s three libraries - the J. Willard Marriott Library, the Eccles Health Sciences Library and the S.J. Quinney Law Library - have requested $850,000 for the 1998-99 fiscal year. Legislative fiscal analysts have recommended $189,500.

Legislative fiscal analysts have recommended $500,000 in one-time money for libraries at the U., Utah State University, Weber State University and Utah Valley State College combined.

Legislative fiscal analysts praise the state's nine colleges and universities for sharing library resources but note "each institution will continue to have specific needs that need not be shared across the system."

Eccles Library Director Wayne Peay said the proposal "is less than a third of what it takes for us just to stay even."

In 1996, for instance, libraries received no new money and canceled hundreds of journals. Last year, the U.'s libraries received enough funding to avoid periodical cancellations. The libraries subscribe to 13,000 journals. Since 1991, 2,500 subscriptions have been canceled.

Library directors say the decision to cancel journal subscriptions has lasting consequences since publishers do not warehouse large numbers of issues. "If you don't get it the year it comes out, you can't find it," said Sarah Michalak, Marriott Library director. "It's a permanent gap in the collection."

Librarians say they raid book budgets when periodical budgets run dry.

"It's crucial and essential to supply our graduates with up-to-date subscriptions. We don't want to be sending doctors and nurses out there with information that's out of date," Peay said.

Michalak added: "What kind of education are people getting if we can't provide access to state-of-the-art information?"

Of the 2 million people who use the U.'s libraries each year, about 20 percent are nonstudent visitors.