Georgia State designates funding to academic materials instead of leisure section

The Georgia State University library is home to a vast collection of books, articles, and electronic resources.  Though the library provides the tools needed for Georgia State students to succeed in their studies, some may wonder why some popular amenities are lacking or missing.

A popular feature of other libraries, both private and academic, is a leisure section offering users magazines, newspapers, and books for relaxation. This feature is missing from Georgia State’s Library, and some students wish there were one.

“I would like to have a leisure section where we can just go and chat,” Kandarp Shah, an Exercise Science major, said. “Versus crowding up rooms where people can study.”

But not every student thinks a leisure section is necessary for the school’s library.

“We kind of already have one, on our first floor. It’s not labeled as a leisure section, but it’s kind of it,” Peter Jaraysi said. “What does a leisure section give us?”

The library actually did have a leisure section until 2010. However, the costs of maintaining one became too high.

“Cost is still the reason the library doesn’t currently offer a leisure/browsing collection,” Skye Hardesty, the Collection Development Department Head, said.

According to Tammy Sugarman, Georgia State Interim Dean of Libraries, the library’s budget for Fiscal Year 2015 is $4,577.004, and will be $4,537,811 for Fiscal Year 2016. Those budgets are determined by the school provost.

Instead of using money from the budget to run a leisure section, Hardesty and Sugarman said the library focuses on Georgia State’s students.

“The library materials budget is limited and we must focus our spending on materials that support the research and teaching activities of GSU,” Hardesty said.

Materials that support research and academics include the vast selection of books the library holds. In addition to that selection, the library provides access to a wide variety of online databases for scholarly research. Subscriptions to those databases can be quite expensive.

“Database subscriptions…vary wildly in cost. Some are a few thousand dollars, some are $120,000,” Hardesty said.

The databases the school subscribes to include GALILEO and JSTOR, as well as a large collection of archived print materials, according to Hardesty.

“The library has purchased a lot of collections of digitized primary sources such as newspapers, books, pamphlets, maps, manuscripts, photographs, etc. with some collections going as far back as the 15th-century such as Early English Books Online (EEBO),” Hardesty said. “These are fascinating resources that can assist any student and I’d like to see them get more use.”

Even though the library’s resources are devoted to academic materials, some students can still see the benefit of a dedicated leisure section.

“I think we should have a leisure section because people try to work on the first floor….there’s nowhere else for us to go,” Kyle Shade said. “It’s like ‘We have to go to the first floor. I know it’s loud, but we have to get this done.’”

But there hasn’t been enough student interest to bring one back. According to Sugarman and Hardesty, the reaction to the loss of the library’s original leisure section wasn’t very profound. However, they said the library is very attentive to students’ needs, and does its best to meet their demands.

“If there’s interest from students, if there’s some kind of consensus,” Sugarman said. “We can certainly look into it.”