Playing Topsy-Turvy with the Library Budget

We’re still in the first week of classes, and the library is very busy. Every computer is is use almost constantly throughout the day. My colleagues and I have often speculated that if we could squeeze more computers into the building, every single one would be in use. Having an overabundance of neither space nor budget, I had another “what-if” moment?

What if – for just one year – we flip-flopped the materials and technology budgets? Setting aside what this would mean for monographs, serials, and databases, IF we had that budget for IT for just one year, what would I do with it?

Replace old public and employee computers
Increase the number of public computers
Add new ILS modules
Purchase test server
Provide additional training for IT department members
Provide additional training for other library employees
Make scanners and media card readers available on some public computers
Purchase equipment for laptop checkout program

Looking at my list, this seems to be a mix of operating essentials and services it would be nice to offer. In fact, it wouldn’t take anything close to the entire materials budget to achieve these. So . . . maybe it’s time to get a little more exotic.

I’ve heard a number of presenters talk about libraries as places for content creation, not just places for warehousing and access. With that in mind, I think a few media labs would be interesting additions. This would definitely require some construction work, so there goes part of the budget. The marketing students are always doing group presentations, so a video editing lab would be a possibility. A lab for the music students with synthesizers, Finale, and some of the Cakewalk software would be another choice. We have evolved into a Windows shop, so I’d like to mix things up with some Macintosh computers. And just to do a little something for the IT Department, I think I would shoot for a new and better server room.

So there is my first, off-the-cuff pass at topsy-turvy day. I wonder what other folks would do if they could play around with the budget for their areas?

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