February 17, 2018

ARL Budget Roundup: Large Academic Libraries Face Cuts in Collections, Staff, Hours

Endowment losses and general budget pressure are factors. Some try to hold the line on materials.

A variety of Association of Research Libraries (ARL) are experiencing or facing budget cuts, and as Charles Bailey, publisher of Digital Scholarship, noted in DigitalKoans (which pointed LJ to most of this), that suggests that other cuts are widespread.

Libraries are freezing open positions, cutting back on travel and other expenses, and, most painfully, implementing or considering cuts in the collections budget, which, even if static, would be strained by rising costs. (See LJ‘s Periodicals Price Survey, 4/15/09.)

At Emory and nearby

At Emory University, the General Libraries have cut $200,000 from the current collections budget, according to a library statement and an estimated $637,000 is expected to be cut from the 2010 budget.

“Library staff is already carefully reviewing electronic database subscriptions for usage and unique content and a modest journals review is also planned,” the library said. In 2010, a $150,000 budget for new databases has been proposed, down from $400,000 in 2009.

Meanwhile, the library will not to fill ten vacant library positions—including African-American Studies, economics, and LGBT—and will place other searches on hold. Plans for renovating the Woodruff  Library stack tower levels 8 and above (costing about $2.3 million per floor) are on hold as are plans for building additional off-site storage areas.

Emory pointed to cuts at other area libraries, including a University of Georgia cut of $600,000 in serial subscriptions (593 titles). Georgia Tech is considering the fate of more than 1,300 journals, and Georgia State University’s journal cancellation project aims to save $400,000.

At UW, cascading cuts

The University of Washington Libraries have proposed a business plan that reflects cuts from 8% ($2.45 million) to 12% ($3.7 million), reported library dean Betsy Wilson. That causes a significant crunch, given that serial price increases are anticipated to average 8%, and monographs to go up 3.5%.

“Therefore, we would require approximately $758,000 in new funds just to maintain our current purchasing power,” said Wilson, so even a stable budget would mean the cancellation of the equivalent of 800 journals and the decision to forgo buying about 1,600 books.

The library will cut supplies, repair, printing/publications, facilities maintenance and minor remodeling, equipment, and travel. “Cutting travel and staff development support will restrict participation in national professional associations and in our librarians’ ability to maintain currency and relationships that can lead to innovation and improved programs,” Wilson wrote.

An 8% cut, including the 1.5% FY09 rescission, would lead to 20.5 vacant positions, as well as the closing and consolidation of three branch libraries and at least one service point in two major libraries. Some 1,448 journal subscriptions would be canceled, with loss of access to 146 additional journals (because of the way packages are bought and licensed). Some 23 subject and interdisciplinary databases would be canceled, and 4,344 fewer books/monographs would be purchased. All print copies of journals received electronically would be cut.

A 12% cut would lead to the loss of up to 34.5 FTE positions, elimination of 24 hour service five days a week (aka 24/5) in the Odegaard Undergraduate Library, and close branch libraries at 5pm Monday through Friday and on weekends. Also, UW would slow build-out of its local digital library collections and “[r]educe leadership in the global library community.”

Some 1,818 journal subscriptions would be canceled, with loss of access to 400 additional journals. Some 29 subject and interdisciplinary databases would be canceled, and 5,452 fewer books/monographs would be purchased. Preservation binding and microfilming operations would be suspended.

Closures at MIT

The MIT Libraries will cut the budget by 6%, or $1.4 million budget, by July 1, according to a library statement, with more reductions expected in the following two years, including “substantial reductions in labor costs, operating expenses, and collections budgets.”

Two specialized libraries, the Lindgren Library for Earth, Atmospheric + Planetary Sciences and the Aero-Astro Library will close as of June 30, with their collections relocated.

UCLA, Tennessee, and Florida

According to a UCLA University Librarian Gary Strong’s blog, deans and chancellors must plan for a 5% across-the-board reduction in funding for the 2009-10 academic year, or $1.83 million. Meanwhile, the library already expects a $438,623 mid-year reduction.

“We are also planning for the reinstatement of the employer contribution to retirement in April 2010,” Strong added.

According to a memo from Barbara I. Dewey, library dean at the University of Tennessee (UT), the library, like other UT units, faces a potential 8% base budget cut, or $1,343,299, from the library’s operations.

Dewey explained, “We will be eliminating redundancy and examining usage statistics for our database collection. Periodical and serial titles for which we have a subscription in more than one format will be identified with digital format being the format of choice.” Decisions will be made by May 1.

The University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries faces over $2.6 million in proposed budget cuts, but hopes for a better outcome. Library dean Judy Russell noted that the deans of libraries at Florida State University and the University of South Florida reported no materials budget cuts at their libraries.

She wrote, “In the April 1st submission, we identified $993,942 in cuts to the materials budget for the Smathers Libraries, including HSCL, on top of $534,738 in lost purchasing power. As the University Library Committee stated in its resolution in support of the Libraries’ budget, ‘A cut in library budgets would have a detrimental effect on every educational and research program at the University.’”

After Russell asked for protection of the libraries’ budget, at least for the materials budget, Provost Joseph Glover replied, “We will give your comments serious consideration. As you can imagine, the final determination may depend on how many degrees of freedom we have after the Legislature acts.”

Yale and Cornell

According to meeting minutes from the Yale University Library (YUL) Collection Development Council, YUL must cut $4.6 million from its budget, and will leave 35 positions unfilled and cut travel costs by 50%.

In January, the prediction was that the collections General Appropriation (GA) budget would be cut by 5%, about $300,000; and the collections endowment budgets would be cut by 6.75% reduction, approximately $900,000. However, in March, an across-the-board cut of 7.5% was established. The library has been told to expect another 5% cut in FY 2011. The Yale endowment has lost 25% in value.

The Cornell University Library will cut about 7.1%, or about $944,000 materials budget funded by endowment payouts. “We won’t be cutting things wholesale,” John Saylor, associate university librarian for scholarly resources and special collections, told the Cornell Chronicle. “We’re examining our buying plans very carefully and are making strategic decisions that take the diverse needs of the various disciplines into account.”

Losing a vice-chancellor

Meanwhile, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth will save $1 million by eliminating two of five vice-chancellor positions. Robert Green, Vice Chancellor for Library Services, Information and Technology, will retire, with his duties to fall under the umbrella of Administration and Fiscal Affairs, according to South Coast Today.

The state university system is expected to face cuts, given the state’s fiscal straits. The university has instituted a wage freeze as well as furloughs for non-union employees.

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