Library faces budget challenges

This semester, the deans and faculty in each academic college will have some tough choices to make as they decide which print journal subscriptions to renew and which to nix.

These decisions will have to be made as the library cuts back on the number of print journal subscriptions it purchases each year.

During a presentation before the UCA Faculty Senate last semester, Torreyson Library Director Art Lichtenstein, said the library subscribes to approximately 1,800 print journals. As he opened a large three-ring binder and began to flip through the pages, he explained that each of the thousands of pages represented an invoice, and the total of those invoices (through November) was $492,764. The problem is that the total so far is about 40 percent over the library?s total budget for print journal subscriptions, which is $351,283.

?I had to say to someone earlier this fall, ?yes, I know you want two new journal titles for your program, so let?s find two we can cut,? but that?s not because I?m mean,? Lichtenstein said. ?Journals cost a lot of money. If you figure that each subscription costs about $300, then multiply that by 1,800 journals and that?s a lot of money.?

A review of the library?s holdings expenditures from fiscal year 1993-94 through 2002-03 shows it has exceeded its revised budget by as little as two percent, or about $9,000 in 2002-03, to as much as 73 percent, or $248,000 during 1998-99. ?These percentages are after the budget has been revised by the administration,? Lichtenstein said. ?If we look at the original budget, those percentages would be a lot higher.? In fact, the library exceeded its original 2002-03 budget by about 45 percent.

While some may wonder why the library?s beginning budget isn?t increased, Dr. Sally Roden, dean of undergraduate studies, said it?s not that easy.

Roden likened the budget to a pie that is divvied up annually by the university?s budget committee. ?You can cut different pieces out of the pie, but if you make one slice bigger, then you have to take some away from the other slices.?

Roden said the reason the library may reduce the number of print journal subscriptions is to weed out print and electronic duplications and to eliminate journals that are no longer used by faculty and students.

After a review of the university?s journal holdings is complete, Roden said, then the university will decide whether to allocate additional funds to the library and where those funds could come from.

?I just want to emphasize that this is a process and we will certainly want feedback from the deans and faculty before we make any decisions,? Roden said.

Lichtenstein said he would rather see the library purchase electronic subscriptions. ?We need to be aggressive and move to electronic subscriptions,? he said. ?I think most would prefer the online databases that offer full-text articles.?

The library is moving toward an emphasis of online databases that offer full-text articles, but Lichtenstein admits, ?We need to do this more aggressively.?

He also warned that while it seems like electronic journals would be less expensive, that might not be the case. ?It?s tricky because some journals give you access to the online version at a free or reduced price with a paid print subscription, so if you drop the print subscription, the online subscription goes up,? he explained.

Lichtenstein also is quick to point out that he doesn?t want to eliminate printed materials. ?Subjects like history, philosophy and literature need a strong collection of printed material, but subjects such as the hard sciences might be better served with electronic articles because the field is ever-changing,? he said.

Lichtenstein said, ?The bottom line is how can we serve our constituents better??

-Jennifer Boyett