Privacy Policy Construction crews work on the exterior of a renovation to the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library at the University on Montana on Wednesday. The Library Commons will include multipurpose meeting spaces for students when it opens in September.

Workers prepare walls for top coating inside the new Library Commons area of the Mansfield Library on Wednesday. Shali Zhang, dean of the library, said an inviting and modern library can help when recruiting new students.

The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library at the University of Montana, after undergoing significant cuts in recent years, is looking at its first major renovation in 40 years and what its dean hopes will be a flat budget for 2019. Last year, a report from the library dean noted funding for collections had dropped 31 percent from the 2013 to 2018 fiscal years, and the library had lost 30 percent of its workforce since just the 2016 fiscal year.

Faculty members and students raised concerns another potential cut would remove valuable subscriptions for research. However, library Dean Shali Zhang said this week if the campus doesn’t undergo another round of reductions, the library will have an even budget from the 2018 to 2019 fiscal years and protect subscriptions this school year.

“I think really in comparison with previous years, this (budget) is much better,” Zhang said. The library’s overall allocation for 2019 is projected to be $5.89 million, slightly more than its total last year after faculty and staff buyouts. In the 2013 fiscal year, the library’s collections budget was $4.87 million, and it’s budgeted to be $3.42 million in 2019, or 30 percent smaller.  However, Zhang said the library is holding the line on subscriptions so far. Read more from…

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