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Shelves in the basement of RichLyn Library hold Huntington College and Huntington University yearbooks from as far back as 1922—the first time that a yearbook was published at Huntington College. But that collection might not extend past the 2010 book.
Mandy Kent has the story.
It’s no secret that budget shortfalls on campus have cut classes and eliminated programs. But what many students don’t know is that the economy has also affected a Huntington University tradition.
The HU yearbook, ‘Mnemosyne,’ the name of the Greek god of memory, will not be printed for the 2010-2011 academic year. Instead, digital and web-based formats are being considered.
Senior theatre performance major Courtney Swenson was shocked to hear about this change.
I’m surprised. It seems like every class is really excited that you’re going to have a yearbook, you’re going to walk away with a yearbook, and it’s something to show your kids.
Administration decided last fall to cut the yearbook budget by about $20,000. Dr. Ron Coffey, vice president for student development and the advisor to the yearbook, says there was enough carry-over from the 2009 year to complete the production of the 2010 book. This large of a cut, however, has made it impossible to produce a traditional printed book again this year.
I think one of the reasons that probably the yearbook became an issue is probably because we typically have so many left over. Finding a place to store boxes and boxes of uncollected yearbooks or undistributed yearbooks certainly becomes an issue and it does begin to ask the question of whether or not we should continue the project based on how much it costs and the number left over.
Coffey says the publisher’s cost is already at the lowest rate possible. Together with staff wages and office supplies, the total cost to produce the Mnemosyne is about $21,000. With the recent cut, the yearbook now receives an allocation of $6,400 for the school year. This money comes from the Student Activities Fee that every full-time student pays each semester. Students do not pay a separate fee to receive a yearbook.
The cost per book averages out to about $30. I asked Coffey whether selling the yearbook to students would eliminate the budget shortfall.
That certainly is a possibility to do that and something that I think we could look at. It wasn’t something we chose to focus on initially just because we felt as though there was an expectation on the students’ part to receive the book for free.
Some students, including Swenson, say they would pay for a yearbook.
I would even be willing to pay for a yearbook. In high school I had to pay for a yearbook, and when I came to college and I found out they were for free, I was like ‘Oh, right on!”
It is uncertain at this time whether yearbooks will ever be printed again in the future. And as for this year, no one is sure what—if anything—will replace the traditional printed format of the yearbook.
We had a couple conversations with some schools who have dropped the book and just done nothing. We’ve also talked to some schools who have a DVD format and then talked to some schools who have utilized a web-based. If we can find a format that works with our current funding, then absolutely what we would do it solicit some staff, or working with our DMA or film folks here on campus may be an option as well to do this at a cost level that would work with our budget.
Not all students like the idea of a digital yearbook. Junior math education major Andy Van Gessel said he is unlikely to look at the yearbook if it is electronic.
ANDY VAN GESSEL
With it being electronic, it just doesn’t mean as much. I don’t have many electronic photos, so I wouldn’t be prone to look at it as much being electronic.
I just don’t like the idea of having a DVD or something online. Ten years down the road I’m not going to get out a DVD and browse through this DVD and relive my senior year. That’s not going to happen. And if they put it online, it’s going to be on a web site that I’m not going to remember.
Others, however, think that digital is the way to go. Business management major Nathan Peck, who worked as a yearbook photographer for a few months last year, says he is not disappointed that he won’t be getting a yearbook to commemorate his senior year.
I would go for a digital thing. The traditional yearbook style, I don’t think it works. I think Facebook is cutting into that whole idea of having rows and rows of people. I think that’s conditioned people to be very picky about what goes into a yearbook.
Randy Neuman, director of the United Brethren Historical Center, which houses archives for the denomination and the university, says he is not surprised that the Mnemosyne will not be printed this year, especially in light of the recent popularity of e-books.
We’ve had a continuous run since 1922. But I’m not surprised because a lot of institutions are going to completely digital or no yearbooks. It’s a trend among academic institutions now. I think it’s a combination of factors. A lot of students don’t either pick theirs up or don’t read it when they get it. And it’s a high cost to produce.
The prevalence of social media has entered the discussions about what to do to replace the printed yearbook.
It just seems like it has to be part of the conversation because it’s so so pervasive. It’s updated so quickly and activities are archived, people’s lives are archived in more broad ways than certainly the yearbook could ever do in its printed form. But I don’t want to underestimate the power of having that book in your hand and being able to pull it off the shelf and go to it. I think that always been the best argument for the survival of the yearbook because it’s always there. And media may change over time. Will DVDs always be a format that is acceptable? A printed book doesn’t change in that regard.
I wish that we were still doing a yearbook, and I know that there will be certainly I think a number of students who wish for the same thing and will miss it—no doubt.
The shelves of RichLyn Library will continue to hold the memories of Huntington University students—but those memories might not be bound in a printed yearbook after 2010.
For the Huntingtonian, I’m Mandy Kent.