COLLEGE PARK LHC KB — COLLEGE PARK -- With a knapsack full of homework slung over her shoulder, Sharon Hobson tugged on one of the doors to the R. Lee Hornbake Library. It was locked.
"I have a six-page paper due tomorrow, and I can't get in to work on it," said the 21-year-old senior psychology major at the University of Maryland in College Park.
After waiting an hour, Mrs. Hobson finally got to work on her paper when the library opened at 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon.
While many students have been forced onto waiting lists for classes they need, Mrs. Hobson and others on the College Park campus are just as angered by the impact that millions of dollars in budget cuts have had on the school's libraries.
Because of reduced funding, college administrators were forced to scale back hours this semester for all seven campus libraries, including most morning hours.
Each library also is closed at least one full day on weekends when, students say, they have the most time to do school work.
"Because I work full time, I don't have time to come here during the week. Then, when I do come up here on the weekends, the libraries are closed," Mrs. Hobson said as dozens of other students milled around outside the Hornbake facility, waiting for it to open.
John Penn, a 19-year-old sophomore government and politics major, stared in disbelief when he realized he couldn't get access to the library either.
"The budget cuts just seem to be affecting everything," said Mr. Penn, who drove 20 minutes from Silver Spring, only to wait two hours before he could get inside to study.
"Things just seem to be going downhill," Mr. Penn said.
Dr. Joanne H. Harrar, the College Park libraries director, said the college is considering reinstatement of the previous library hours, but she emphasized that if it does, other items will be compromised.
For example, she said, the campus libraries will not purchase 1,400 periodicals, journals and research materials this year to offset the costs of keeping libraries open. Last year, 1,500 similar items were not purchased to meet state-mandated budget cuts.
The College Park libraries have been forced to cut about $2.4 million in the past two years. That has resulted in 32 staff layoffs, in addition to the cuts in other areas.
Because most of the libraries' $15 million annual budget is tied up in salaries or books and periodicals, operating hours and research materials are hit the hardest by budget cuts.
"The more we cut back on the materials' budget, the more we are unable to support student and faculty research," Dr. Harrar said.
Dr. Jacob K. Goldhaber, acting provost, said the College Park libraries most likely will resume the previous library hours later this spring and research material purchasing will be forced to suffer.