Looking Back: Kresge library struggled to provide resources in 1977

Bridget Janis, Features Editor

With collections of books, journals, periodicals, microfilms and electronic databases, Kresge Library is an important resource for Oakland University students to use for research. But in 1977, students and faculty expressed concerns about the quantity and quality of materials available.

At the time, there were major problems with finding and having a current selection of books, and some students complained that the books and periodicals were out of date.

“I usually end up going to Wayne State or to U of M to get a better, more updated selection,” Jon Jiancristoforo said, physical therapy graduate in second year professional studies at the time.

The university’s library funding comes from the general university funds and also from small donations by alumni and the community.

“With restricted funding in most campus libraries, it is harder to keep a large, updated collection, especially with journals,” Millie Merz said, an associate professor at Kresge Library at the time.

Many faculty members believed the library was focused more on the electronic aspect rather than the books. Some agreed that the library was definitely making advancements, just not fast enough or in the right spots.

During the 1996-1997 school year, the library was allotted $3,171,659 for expenses. This had to cover salaries, travel, supplies and any other expenditures that were needed throughout the year. Kresge spent $1,066,772 on books, journals and other physical materials, and also purchased 11,000 items in online resources.

When discussing the student needs for topics that are not well-represented, Merz said the Kresge staff had tried to understand the needs of students and would make an effort to meet those needs in the future.

“If people come to the reference desk, often asking about a particular subject, we make a mental note of it and consider buying more materials in that topic,” Merz said.

Kresge Library uses interlibrary loans as a way to learn about the scarcity of materials in certain departments. During the 1996-1997 school year, there was a request of 11,791 photocopies of information from specific books or journals.

Hemant Mahamwal, Student Congress vice president at the time, believed the library should concentrate more on getting interlibrary loan materials to OU faster, rather than purchasing new materials.

After the article was published on Nov. 5, 1977, the dean of Kresge Library had a follow-up response allowing Oakland Post readers to request reports on the current status and future plans of the library. This allowed students to voice their concerns and ask questions about the funding for the library.

The dean also claimed that the library was in the works of purchasing more than 11,000 new titles that year. She also expressed that they were working on bringing the electronic resources up-to-date and providing more training on how to use the library.

The sources Kresge library offered in 1977 were very limited, and students and faculty found it hard to access the right materials for all their projects and reports. In response, staff members at Kresge hoped to work with the university’s committee to improve their services for the future.