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Decreasing budgets and increasing costs – working with faculty to mitigate the damage

October 6, 2009
Image courtesy of Flickr user ehisforadam

Image courtesy of Flickr user ehisforadam

Like many academic libraries, our library budget has recently been cut.  Last year, we dealt with the cuts by severely cutting our book budget and our student employee budget.  This year, the additional budget cuts made some journal cancellations necessary.  Most of our cuts involve canceling individual print or online subscriptions if we already had access via an aggregator (like ProQuest or Ebsco).  We have (thankfully) been able to almost completely make up our budget gap without loosing access to any content.

As a result of examining our journal subscriptions, the opportunity arose to subscribe to the full text geology resource GeoScienceWorld.  If we canceled individual subscriptions to journals that were available in GeoScienceWorld, we could almost make up the difference.  We would need to cancel a couple of other journals in order to make this feasible.

I thought that the increased content and ease of use provided by GeoScienceWorld made this a good move, and I took the question to the Geosciences department.

I created a list of individual journals we would need to cancel (that would be available GeoScienceWorld).  I created a list of journals that we would gain access to.  I also created a list of suggested cancellations we would have to make in order to make up the difference.  In creating my list of suggested cancellations, I worked hard to minimize the loss of content.

In a meeting with the Geosciences library representative and department chair, they were very receptive to my plan, even suggested some cancellations that I assumed would be ‘off limits’.

Overall, they understood the budget pressures – their departmental budget had also been cut – and they appreciated the fact that this decision was being left (mostly) in their hands.  The department chair was going to bring the information back to the department for a final decision – making sure that all the faculty are in the loop.

I am pleased with the communication between the library and the faculty on this issue, and I will try to use this example as a model in future decisions regarding departmental resources.

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