By Katie Hobday
In this year’s election, there are several referenda questions concerning decreases to Students’ Union levies. One levy in question is the Library Assistance fee.
"Students don’t need to pay as much to receive the same amount of funding," said Gavin Preston, head of the "yes" campaign to reduce the levy.
Preston, who brought the referendum question forward as SU Vice-President Operations and Finance, sees the decrease as both possible and necessary.
Currently, full-time students pay five dollars per semester and part-time students pay $2.50 a semester. By year’s end, the library will have approximately $830,000 sitting in an endowment earning a mere two per cent interest per year. This accounts for about half of what the levy actually brings in, making it possible to re-invest the endowment to earn a higher rate of return while reducing the amount students pay.
The library, however, makes good use of the endowment.
"We’ve had close relations with the SU since 1998," said Assistant Director of Collections and Services Ada-Marie Atkins Nechka. "The [levy] benefits students because they have a say in what we’re buying."
As of January 2004, students have donated $624,940.85 directly to the library, which has gone to pay for 10,555 books, 174 new journal titles per year and 1,240 hours of services per year. All books purchased with students’ money are decided upon by students and representatives from both the SU and the library, and are recognized with a bookplate.
"I can’t say enough good things about the students and their generosity," said Yvonne Hinks, the Library Associate Director for Administration Information Resources. "We are very grateful. I don’t know of any other university that has a student population that donates so much to its library."
Preston admits a decrease in the levy will substantially slow the endowment’s growth rate. However, according to Preston, if the endowment is garnering a higher rate of return, the decrease in the levy will make up for itself.
"We want to increase quality and maintain service without charging students more money," said Preston. "Vote yes to paying less."
Students benefit from the levy, in the form of new books and longer hours of operation.
"The endowment is a legacy current students are leaving behind," said Nechka-Atkins.