UI libraries deal with new fiscal limitations

With a changing demand from users and amid fiscal constraints, the University Library has been actively transforming itself while attempting to maintain its status as a top-tier academic library.

Tom Teper, associate dean of libraries, said one of the most obvious changes to the way resources are being used in the library is the decrease in the number of permanent staff and the number of services and functions being outsourced.

“The library is facing some fiscal constraints, but we feel as though we have been very fairly treated by the campus administration,” he said.

He also said that the library’s collection is moving toward more digital holdings.

“From a collections standpoint, the demand for resources has made a dramatic shift from being print-based to being focused on electronic resources,“ he said.

“While there are still disciplines that rely heavily on books, the vast majority of our resources are spent on electronic resources.”

Teper said on average over three million PDFs are downloaded from electronic resources per year.

The library reached its 12 millionth volume last month by adding “The Adventures of Tommy,” the only children’s book written and illustrated by H.G. Wells.

“The Adventures of Tommy” was a gift from University alumni.

The library budget for Fiscal Year 2011 is $35,975,264, and the material budget for the library, which includes print and electronic media and library membership association fees, totals $14,467,314.

The full budget excludes gifts, donations and grants.

Materials that are added to the collection are left up to individual subject specialists.

Mary Stuart, history and philosophy librarian, a subject area specialist for choosing books for the history of science, Jewish and Native American studies, said she draws upon her own expertise as a former doctoral student.

“I keep up with the current trends in the field and scholarship by reading journal papers, reviews and publisher announcements” she said. “I’m also in close contact with the history department faculty, and solicit their input in areas we would like to acquire more material for.”

Nancy O’Brien, head of the Education and Social Science Library, serves as education subject area specialist and chooses books to add to the education collection.

“I try to make sure that the collection is balanced and that all viewpoints are equally represented,” she said.

She said that she has become more selective in the books she decides to add to the collection due to fiscal constraints and tries to avoid duplication by not buying a book that might be held at another library which has a sharing agreement with our library .

The library purchases access to several information resources and online journals such as JSTOR, Elsevier eBooks and ProQuest.

A subscription to the Elsevier eBooks, which is host particularly to works on science and technology, can cost from $1,000 per title upward to over $10,000, Teper said. JSTOR, commonly used among those in the humanities, can cost about $12,000 per module with a $6,000 annual fee.

The library may lose access to these services if they do not continue to purchase them on an annual basis, but each service has a unique agreement, so in some cases access may be retained to some extent without having to pay more.

Teper said that he is convinced the library will continue to meet the needs of students and faculty the best they can.