Library to make additional cuts

The University Library will soon begin cutting back on some of its resources in the face of a third round of University budget cuts.

In a statement Tuesday, the Library announced it will reduce duplication of materials and cut journal and database subscriptions, as well as purchases of books and other print materials, by 5 percent. Still, the Library will try to minimize the impact on faculty activity, according to the statement, and to maintain access to certain resources.

The new budget cuts follow a 10 percent decrease in the collections-purchase budget that was announced in July for the current fiscal year.

Ann Okerson, associate University librarian for collections and international programs, said cuts will vary across disciplines, which require different library resources. Whereas science researchers tend to rely on online publications, those working in the humanities and area studies are typically more interested in printed books and journals, Okerson said.

Librarians have not yet informed faculty members of the particular resources that will be curtailed, said Linda Peterson, professor of English and a member of the University’s Advisory Committee on Library Policy.

“We know that there will be cuts, but we don’t know in what areas they will be,” Peterson said. “I haven’t been informed of anything that would specifically target journals in my territory.”

Electronic journal subscriptions will likely be prioritized over their print counterparts, said Susanne Roberts, a subject specialist librarian in ancient, European and commonwealth history, because print materials cost money to process — an undertaking she described as “largely starved right now.” Even with electronic subscriptions, Roberts noted, usage can be extremely low; the most popular of the journals under her supervision has only been accessed four times within a 12-month period.

Okerson said acquisitions librarians have been working to reduce the number of duplicate library materials. In the past, the Library has bought electronic access to databases even though it may also have print copies of some of the included works. Though the databases are often more convenient, she said, the Library can pay for access in better economic times, while scholarly books may only be available in print for a limited amount of time.

Subject specialist librarians — who oversee acquisitions of materials in particular disciplines — have seen reductions ranging from $500 to over $33,000 in their purchasing budgets, Roberts added. Her own department’s budget is $11,000 short of last year’s.

Usage of services like Borrow Direct and Interlibrary Loan, which allow patrons to check out books from a consortium of schools, including seven of the eight Ivy League colleges, may increase in the troubled economic climate, Okerson said. The Library is examining how the availability of materials within the consortium may affect the Library’s other purchasing decisions, she said.

Okerson said the Library will not look to a large-scale digitization initiative to cut expenses.

“Quality digitization that has utility for our users is quite costly,” she wrote in an e-mail. “There are also copyright issues with current books, and you have to have a copy to digitize it — even if you had permission — so this is not a path to cost reduction.”

And, Roberts said, because the Library has made relatively few layoffs, preferring to dismiss part-time employees or to let jobs disappear through attrition, the collections budget has been hit particularly hard. So far, she said, the cuts have largely been to short-term initiatives, such as digitization efforts.

Still, the most recent budget reduction may only be a harbinger of future cutbacks, Roberts warned.

“It is almost certain that there will be more cuts coming next year,” she said. “It’s pretty dire.”

The latest cuts are in line with University President Richard Levin’s request in September that all areas of the University reduce non-salary expenses by 5 percent.

Comments

  • M. Dickerson

    With the endowment base of Yale University, cutting back on library services is beyond the pale.