COLUMBIA — If you want to help out MU Libraries, it's looking for someone to buy and donate a book called "Complete and Truly Outstanding Works by Homer." It includes a Latin literal translation.
But it's not cheap. It'll run you $5,250.
Or you could chip in "Another Time, Another Place," by Jessie Kesson. It's only $16.75.
Those are the most and least expensive books on a wish list of over 400 that MU Libraries had hoped to buy but have been unable to because of recent budget cuts. The wish list, which was posted two weeks ago on the MU Libraries website, provides a portal for willing donors to buy specific books needed to support teaching and research.
Anne Barker, head of research services for MU Libraries, said the list was put together to address cuts the libraries faced in fiscal year 2017 and the cuts they'll see in fiscal year 2018, which begins July 1.
“Last year we also had a big budget cut, which was largely due to inflation,” Barker said. “The wish list was partly in response to that.”
MU Libraries had to cut $1.2 million in materials costs for fiscal 2017, according to previous Missourian reporting, and it's looking at about $1.3 million in one-time cuts to its collection expenses in fiscal 2018.
MU Libraries spends a lot of money on academic journals, spokeswoman Shannon Cary said, and prices for those journals go up every year.
“We have the problem that there’s inflation,” Cary said. “If there’s inflation and you get a flat budget, which on a good year we’re getting a flat budget, you still have to cut.”
Cary said that most research at MU is being done by journal searching online but that some departments such as history or humanities still use a lot of monographs, otherwise known to most people as books.
Cary described the libraries’ spending as a tough balance between the journal subscriptions and these one-time book purchases.
“The bulk of our budget is going toward these big journal packages. It’s kind of like a cable package, where you get everything,” Cary said. “So say you spend all of your budget on your cable, but you want to go see a movie. You can’t go see the movie.”
The wish list includes books for arts and humanities, medicine and health sciences, science and engineering, social sciences and business as well as a few special-collection books.
Subject specialists with the libraries communicated with the faculty of each school to put together the wish list.
Barker is a selection representative for the faculty in the English, German, Russian and linguistics programs.
“We try to work closely with faculty and departments to make sure we’re in tune with what they want,” Barker said.
Faculty members usually request enough resources to spend the entire budget, Barker said, so she tried to prioritize items that MU would not be able to borrow from other institutions.
“By no means is this just a list of all of the books we need,” Barker said. “This is just the tip of the iceberg.”
Three books have been donated since the wish list was posted.
Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.