Library-IT Fee funds fully allocated; rate remains steady

The University will no longer see an additional influx of funds from the campus Library-IT Fee, used to expand and enhance library and information technology resources.

When the fee was instated in 2007, it was only applied to incoming students after the summer semester, resulting in an approximate 25 percent yearly increase in additional funding until the fee was fully implemented four years later in 2011, said campus spokeswoman Robin Kaler in an email.

“Now that the fee is in its sixth year, there is no additional influx of funds to distribute and the recurring money is spoken for on long-term services,” Kaler said.

She added that there has been no increase in the fee level for several years, remaining at $244 per semester for students taking 12 or more credit hours. As such, there is no longer a need for the Library-IT Fee Advisory Committee, composed of faculty from CITES and the University Library as well as representatives from student stakeholder groups, to make allocation recommendations to the Office of the Provost. The advisory committee meets only when called together to review allocations of additional revenue.

Kaler noted that the campus plans to review allocations as its needs change. At that time, students will once again be involved in the decision-making process. 

Since its approval, the fee has funded enhancements to the Urbana campus, including upgrades to classrooms, libraries and computer labs as well as additions to print and digital resources for the University Library.

Associate Dean of Libraries Tom Teper, co-chair of the advisory committee, said the fee has “certainly enhanced the University Library’s ability to move ahead on a great number of initiatives.”

“We were really interested … in trying to expand services, to attempt to improve space across the libraries, and improve what we had in the way of collections, both in terms of discovery and materials,” Teper said.

In 2007, funding from the Library-IT Fee was used to provide 24-hour service five days a week at the Grainger Engineering Library Information Center. Just a year and a half later, the Undergraduate Library began to provide similar hours, adding weekend hours as well. During the 2007 to 2008 school year, more than 1.7 million people visited these two libraries — a 10 percent increase over the previous year.  

Additionally, fee money allowed the campus to increase the power grid supporting the Undergraduate Library in 2009, as well as increase the number of available power outlets by 300 percent. 

“One of the first things we did was look at the 24-hour libraries, and we did that because of (student input),” Teper said. “We looked at power to the Undergraduate Library early on, because frankly, we knew we had to do something there. The input of the students (on the advisory committee) really helped us shape the priorities.” 

More recently, Teper said the fee has allowed the library staff to process “huge collections of backlogged materials,” including tens of thousands of materials that had been previously difficult to use in teaching and research. 

In addition, the fee has allowed the libraries to provide wider access to ebooks and other online resources. Teper said the University’s digital collections have millions of downloads a year for licensed online resources. 

“At this point, about 71 percent at the end of the last fiscal year of our materials allocation went to electronic resources,” he said. “Frankly, the changes in the publishing industry are moving in that direction.”

Although Teper said resource prices continue to increase, Kaler said the fee has not increased in the past three years; however, if there were a need, she said the Tuition Policy Advisory Committee — composed of undergraduate and graduate student members — would review the possibility when they make their recommendations in the fall. The campus has not asked for an increase in the past three years and the committee has agreed that the fee remain flat.

Tyler can be reached at [email protected] and @TylerAllynDavis.