Editor’s note: This is the second story in a series analyzing fee proposals under consideration by K-State. The first story in this series analyzed the fee proposal for the College of Business.
K-State Libraries is requesting a new $1 per-credit-hour fee from all undergraduate and graduate students to upgrade Hale Library, according to the fee proposal document.
The added fee is expected to generate more than $500,000 dollars per year, according to the document.
“The fee will be used to create dynamic, flexible, student-centered learning spaces where Hale Library users can work alone or collaboratively, access the latest technology and conduct research adjacent to library materials and expertise,” the proposal states. “Plans include new layouts to improve the differentiation between individual and group work and establish more technology-enabled learning spaces.”
Annie Greenwell, junior in family studies and human services, said the fee seemed reasonable compared to other costs that students pay.
“You think about how much we pay for classes and books, and I don’t think that a few dollars would break the bank or make that much of a difference,” Greenwell said.
To Sarah Colburn, junior in family studies and human services, the dollar fee increase is not too demanding.
“I don’t think that a dollar is too much to ask for,” Colburn said. “I really believe in funding for school and for education, and if that enhancing study spaces, or whatever upgrades, is going to help people in their academics, I think that’s really awesome.”
Lori Goetsch, dean of K-State Libraries and contact person for the proposal, said the amount of the fee was determined because the proposal’s writers knew there would be multiple fee proposals this year.
“We were trying to be sensitive to the burden that extra fees place on students,” Goetsch said. “Knowing there were going to be a lot of proposals this year, we thought we might have a better chance of success if we were mindful of just asking for a small amount and proving the value of even what a small amount of money can do for the library.”
Goetsch said the money will be used to create a “pool of resources for facility enhancement.”
According to the fee proposal, more than 28,000 people visit Hale each week when classes are being held. Gate counts cited in the proposal found that nearly 950,000 people entered Hale during fiscal year 2015.
“This building is open around the clock practically almost 365 days a year, we get a tremendous amount of student use,” Goetsch said. “There are some real fundamental things that just need to be maintained, replaced on a regular basis. Technology, whiteboards, furniture, kind of that run-of-the-mill stuff, but there are also some really new things that we want to do.”
According to the proposal, repairs and replacements of whiteboards and furniture accounted for more than $12,000 in expenditures in fall 2015, which was attributed to “heavy use.” Scanners alone account for more than $16,000 per year in maintenance costs, according to the document.
According to Goetsch, the money from the proposed fee could further benefit Hale beyond purchases themselves, because it would allow the library to approach donors and talk about the students’ commitment to the library.
“It also is a way for me to go to donors and say, ‘The students are making a statement by accepting this fee and supporting the library, and we’re hoping that you’ll do the same,'” Goetsch said.
One of the improvements the fee could address is a potential renovation of Hale’s first floor, possibly to include a new entryway so users of Hale can access the floor directly. According to the proposal, K-State Libraries aims to raise $5.5 million “through philanthropy from outside sources,” if they are given permission to fundraise for it. Currently, though, Goetsch said K-State Libraries doesn’t have that permission.
“One thing we want to do is open up the Sunflower Entrance down here so it comes right into the library,” Goetsch said.
Goetsch said not having a direct entrance into the first floor has been one of the things that has most frustrated her in her time at K-State.
Renee Douglas, senior in public relations, said she thought an entrance facing the Quad might be a good idea.
“It’s one of those things I hear a lot of my engineering friends talk about is that the huge design flaw in that building is there is no back entrance or back exit,” Douglas said. “I’m sure there’s fire escapes or something like that, but they’re not well known because we don’t enter over there.”
The details of a potential renovation, however, are still in the early stages, Goetsch said.
“We’ve got to get the project approved through university and foundation channels so that we can fundraise for it,” Goetsch said. “It’s a few years down the line.”
For now, the current fee proposal would allocate about $100,000 of every $500,000 generated each year to maintenance and repair, while the other $400,000 would be allocated toward upgrades and technology.
“I really want students to be supporting improvements and enhancements to continue to make the library an environment that is meeting the needs of the students for study, for working together and for the other things that go on here, just kind of the social and cultural aspects that the library provides to the campus,” Goetsch said. “I don’t want to overload the maintenance side. I really want to use that money for improvements and to do new things. There are so many new things going on in libraries across the country.”
Douglas said she’d like to see the library provide software for architectural design and Photoshop and other programs that are expensive for students to buy.
“If the library could provide some of those programs on special computers, we have a ton of computers,” Douglas said. “Just getting those updated so students could work on homework and work on projects and use software that they are going to actually be using in the workplace, I think that would be really beneficial.”