Possible funding cuts to UNT library shouldn’t affect the continued archiving of the LGBT collection, which chronicles community history


COMMUNITY ARCHIVIST | Phil Johnson, center, talks to visitors in October at the first exhibit of artifacts from his collection donated to the University of North Texas in 2012. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)


DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer

DENTON — A year after Resource Center donated the extensive Phil Johnson Library to the University of North Texas, a budget restructuring could affect how the documents that chronicle LGBT history are archived.

Budget cuts throughout UNT’s departments are being discussed, but Provost Warren Burggren wrote in a statement that discussions about funding are just beginning and no decisions have been made.

“There have not yet been any specific discussions within the Division of Academic Affairs about options for how this will be addressed,” he wrote.

Burggren called UNT’s libraries “an extraordinarily valuable asset to our academic community, and they are central to our continued growth in providing the highest quality education and conducting cutting edge research.”

Rumors about the budget cuts escalated to the point of some of them suggesting UNT’s library would close, but that’s not true, according to Kelly Reece, spokeswoman for the library.

“What happened is our budget office informed the library [that] the way in which benefits will be funded will change,” she said.

Those changes, as Burggren said, haven’t been decided. However, students are voicing their concerns. They formed a group called Save the Library, and more than 7,000 people joined a Facebook page that’s concerned with the cuts.

Resource Center CEO Cece Cox spoke to a UNT library official about how the budget restructuring could affect the LGBT collection.

“They’re not expecting any cuts that will affect the archives,” she said. “He doesn’t see any imminent threat to the archives.”

UNT librarians catalogued documents, photographs and other memorabilia that tell the history of the North Texas LGBT community. The list of items is 300 pages long. Papers are preserved in acid-free folders and stored in more than 500 boxes in temperature-controlled facilities. The library hopes to receive a grant that will allow it to convert all issues of Dallas Voice to searchable PDFs. Currently, issues published since 2006 can be accessed through the library’s online database.

Still, talk of budget cuts is causing campus concern. Masood Raja, an associate English professor and founder of Save the Library, said he attended a meeting for faculty and graduate students. They were told benefits would have to be covered through student user fees.

While the library was moving toward that in 2015, they were told it needed to start immediately and would be retroactive. To save money, Raja said they were told $1.7 million in cuts, including subscriptions to journals and new acquisitions, had been made.

Despite the controversy that has arisen, Burggren said he was impressed that so many people quickly moved to “save the libraries.” He said he would keep the community informed about library funding decisions, but asked for time.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 29, 2013.