Libraries Explore Big Ideas to Overcome Small Budgets

Tough times are taking a toll but spurring innovations in handling collections

Libraries Explore Big Ideas to Overcome Small Budgets 1

Pauline Lubens for The Chronicle

Thomas C. Leonard is university librarian at the U. of California at Berkeley. His budget was cut by 18 percent last year, and he has lost 30 full-time employees.

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Pauline Lubens for The Chronicle

Thomas C. Leonard is university librarian at the U. of California at Berkeley. His budget was cut by 18 percent last year, and he has lost 30 full-time employees.

At many university libraries, the toxic economy has eaten away at staffing levels and at collections-and-acquisitions budgets. It has deflated endowments and disrupted plans to build new facilities and upgrade equipment.

But in response, librarians are doing more than tightening their belts. Some see the crisis as a chance to change the way they do business. It has spurred efforts to dream up ambitious solutions to big problems, such as collaborative storage networks that let