logo ULC Annual Report 1995-96



The library acquisition budget has not kept pace with increases in either the cost of materials or the exponentially growing amount of published literature. Long before the present crisis, the library abandoned the practice of collecting materials just in case they might be needed in the future. For some time, it has followed an agenda of managed collection growth, in which library strengths are maintained in those known or expected to be primary teaching and research programs of the university.
The fortunes of the library are reflected in those of the Madison campus. After four years of a budget that did not rise, it is now faced with cuts of nearly 5% (about $20 million) from its programs by the end of 1997. Perhaps in recognition of the fact that library acquisitions costs are more uncontrollable than costs of most campus units, and the fact that the library is the major common property of all who work and study here, library cuts will be less than those prevailing campus-wide. The library is cut 1% in the first year of the biennium and will likely be cut 2% in the second. The drop in federal grants and contracts also will have an impact, for the library is heavily dependent on indirect cost recovery. It is estimated that this year the General Library System (GLS) budget will be almost $800,000 short of the funding necessary to purchase serials and monographs at 1994/95 levels. Because of these reductions, coupled with the fact that the library buys few duplicates, those materials treating subjects in high demand by students, faculty, and staff will be increasingly unavailable.
Declining budget is part of the problem; increasing materials' cost is the other. Presently, materials acquisition represent almost 36% of the total GLS budget. Journal prices are expected to rise this year at an average rate of 14%, reflecting the weak dollar, overall inflation, the rise of paper costs, and the monopoly power of some publishers. Between 1990 and 1996, the average subscription price for journals rose from $131 to $249, an increase of 91%. One publisher, Springer-Verlag, increased prices of some of its titles in 1996 by an average of 26%, while another, Elsevier Science, increased some prices by more than 28%. In the physical sciences, journal prices increases this year have averaged more than 20%. In the biological sciences and the social sciences, price increases have averaged 15% over last year. In the past three years, UW libraries have canceled more than 2,200 serial titles; these cuts are made based upon eliminating multiple subscriptions for the same journal and usage surveys checked with library-monitored shelving rates and cost per use. In 1990, the library subscribed to 49,628 serials; by 1994/95 this figure was 44,810 - a decrease of 9.7%. There were 74,628 monographs purchased in 1990/91; this figure was reduced to 68,450, a decrease of 8%.
Some disciplines are seeing slight shifts to purchasing serials from buying monographs, but when evaluated across all campus libraries, the split between the two was virtually the same as in earlier years in the Nineties. The percentage of total expenditures spent on monographs dropped only 2% in 1995 compared to 1994.
At the same time that cancellations are being made and other purchases are being cut, the library is being used at record rates. Since 1990/91, library circulation increased by 38%, from 2,207,686 to 3,044,605 in 1994/95. Student users of the library's instructional services rose by 39% over the same period. Programs for this instruction rose by 46%, from 1,236 in 1990/91 to 1,810 in 1994/95.
In order to compensate, the library is relying more on interlibrary loans, which are up 46% from 1990/91. More attention is being given to speeding up this service, with an overall goal of 48 hours between ordering the materials and their delivery. Some attention is being given to complementarity of collections, so that if one library collects thoroughly in one area, another will not seek to buy as complete a collection. Soon the electronic library will assist in this endeavor.
The nagging problem that remains is whether the library will be able to retain its present strength and rank along with Cal-Berkeley, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Virginia, as it did in the Mellon Report on University Libraries and Scholarly Communications, or will it become a second tier institution. Recent comparisons with peer institutions are troubling. The Madison campus was fifth in terms of materials expenditures in 1989/90, but it had dropped to eighth by 1993/94 even as the budget rose. Indeed, this period saw the GLS plus the Law and Health Science libraries with a 16% budget increase for materials. The comparable next period will show decreases in current dollars; one wonders how badly the libraries will slip in that scenario. Midway into 1995/96 the libraries have cut $300,000 in expenditures for serials. This year, the University Library Committee made the following resolutions for the Faculty Senate on ways to reduce journal prices and the associated matter of intellectual property (as it concerns the library):
  1. Resolved, that the Faculty Senate urge members of the faculty to consider publishing their work with publishers whose interests are sympathetic to the academic enterprise. University presses and scholarly societies offer avenues for the dissemination of information that remain under the control of the academic community. The University should continue to support and encourage those institutions whose function is to make the results of research available on a nonprofit basis.
  2. Resolved, that the Faculty Senate recommend that faculty to use their influence in their professional societies to make the editorial boards of their journals concerned about reducing the costs of publication and to discourage the publication of unrefereed journals and conference proceedings of ephemeral interest.
  3. Resolved, that the Faculty Senate recommend to the Graduate School Executive Committee that it investigate distributing graduate theses and dissertations electronically, and report its findings back to the Senate.
  4. Resolved, that an appropriate University authority establish an ad hoc campus-wide committee to explore ways to inform, advise, and provide services to faculty and staff concerning copyright issues as they affect teaching and research, and to propose an appropriate model to the Faculty Senate. The committee would include, but not necessarily be limited to, representatives of the University Library Committee, the Graduate School, University Publications, the Teaching Academy, and Administrative Legal Services.
  5. Resolved, that the Divisional Committees consider new ways in which the quality of faculty research be evaluated.

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