Look at a collection of all the yearbooks in Lawrence history, and you’ll notice something missing. Two things, actually: in the early 1970s, production of Ariel, the Lawrence University yearbook, stopped for two years. Paul Shrode, associate dean of students for activities, calls it a “gap in our history.” He wants to make sure it never happens again. So do Justine Reimnitz and Jonathan Edewards, the only two people working to finish the 2004 edition. Reimnitz is a senior and Edewards is a former Ariel editor who graduated last year but has returned to Lawrence to work on the book. “I really love it so much that I can’t seem to get away from it,” Edewards said. He admitted it helps that he is now being paid to finish the issue. “We’re nearing completion,” Reimnitz said. There are 16 “signatures,” or 4-page sections, left to complete on last year’s issue, out of a total of 42. Layout should be finished by early March. Reimnitz said that even with only two people on staff, she and Edewards wanted the book done right. The 2003 issue was a great success, and they wanted to stay at that level. “We’re not going to sacrifice quality,” she said. “When it’s done, it will be another very successful yearbook.” Ariel is a labor of love for Edewards and Reimnitz, but they agree that it’s far too much for two people to handle alone. Edewards said staffing has been a problem for Ariel for many years, probably since the 1980s. “It’s been a lot of one or two people doing 90 percent of the work, and five or six people doing 10 percent of the work,” he said. “It’s awful for that person doing 90 percent.” In 2003, Edewards said he and Reimnitz managed to recruit a good staff and the quality improved. “But no one wanted to learn enough to replace us,” he said. “It just sort of fell apart.” Edewards thinks he knows the solution to the staffing problem. “We’ve got to pay the staff,” he said. Ariel has never had the money to pay students. Reimnitz said, “It has really hurt the yearbook. Not just this year, but for many years this has been the issue.” She said Ariel has put staff pay in its budget for the last three years, but LUCC has denied it. The rejection, she contends, has hurt the organization. “It’s an extension of the mentality that the yearbook isn’t important,” she said. The issue was brought up again at a February meeting of the LUCC-sponsored Publications Board, and members strongly supported pay for Ariel staff. After gaining support from the board, Ariel brought the matter to LUCC yesterday. Shrode said the council now seems receptive to the idea. The next step is to submit a budget for approval. All this work will be in vain, though, if no one steps up to replace Reimnitz and Edewards. Neither can commit to working on another issue. That means there is currently no staff – not one person – for the 2005 issue, and Lawrence now risks not having a yearbook for the third time in history. The potential absence of a 2005 issue would have financial consequences as well as nostalgic ones. For over 25 years Ariel has published through Jostens, a company that specializes in high school and college yearbooks. Jostens provides printing services as well as a local adviser for the yearbook staff. A year ago, Ariel accepted a three-year contract from Jostens, the company that has published the Ariel for over 25 years, that included a free computer and software to support yearbook production. That great deal will turn out to be a financial headache, though, if there is no 2005 issue. The contract is legally binding, and that could mean paying for a book that does not exist. Production of a yearbook normally costs around $27,000. Most of the cost comes not from printing itself, but from the setup of the presses and labor expenses. That means the fewer copies printed, the greater the cost per book. Hence, when fewer students purchased books, the cost of each book rose. Two years ago, LUCC agreed to use the activities fee to subsidize yearbooks completely. Since then, every student has been eligible to receive a free copy. Shrode said that even when the books are free, not all students choose to take one. Shrode believes the lack of interest in the yearbook is part of a national trend. Students, he said, do not recognize the value of the book while they’re still in school. Reimnitz agrees. “As you get older, you forget the specific things and maybe what the year was like,” she said. Shrode says a yearbook is particularly important right now, to document all the changes on campus – especially those surrounding the new president. All that’s needed is a staff. “We are desperate for help,” he said. Edewards said that if students are willing to take up the challenge of running Ariel, they will find that they are in pretty good shape. He pointed out that the organization owns high-quality equipment, from the computer to the brand-new layout software. He and Reimnitz also took the time to write out instructions for future editors. “There’s still hope,” Reimnitz said. “I’m going to be around. If anyone wants to trudge through it, I’m on their side.