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Sustainability of Library Budgets & Collections

By BTL on September 3, 2015 6:01 PM | Permalink

UNLV University Libraries’ collections budget funds the purchase and subscriptions of resources in all formats to support the teaching and research needs of the university. Every year a larger percentage of this budget is devoted to journal and database subscriptions, which are subject to annual inflationary increases. In FY13/14, 88% of the Libraries’ collection funds were spent on these continuing resources, while 8% was allocated to monographs and other resources. Data collected by the Association of Research Libraries clearly illustrate this trend of an increasing percentage of overall collections budgets allocated to journal and database subscriptions.

The major challenge with building and maintaining library collections is the cost of inflation for these continuing resources. Each year, the Libraries needs additional funding added to the base collections budget to maintain existing journal and database subscriptions. For example, in FY 15/16, the Libraries will need an additional $400,000 added to the base collections budget to maintain current subscriptions, which is an inflation rate of 6.9%. Since 2010, the cost of subscriptions have risen steadily and far outstripped the Consumer Price Index. Decreases, flat budgets, and inadequate inflation funding have resulted in cancellations of journals and databases, and reductions in monograph purchases in academic libraries throughout the world.

UNLV University Libraries has employed several strategies to deal with the high inflationary rates of scholarly materials:

• Patron Driven Acquisitions allows the library to provide access to thousands of e-books, but to purchase them only when our patrons use them.
• Purchasing through consortia provides greater discounts than if we negotiated products on our own; for example, the Libraries cost avoidance through the Greater Western Library Alliance consortium was $4,172,085.89 in 2012. 
• Providing unmediated borrowing access to other libraries’ collections; for example, UNLV students, faculty, and staff can directly request delivery from among the more than 9 million unique titles in Link+ (California libraries).
• Supporting open access initiatives, including developing Digital Scholarship@UNLV (an online repository that highlights the scholarly contributions of UNLV authors to the world), provides an alternative to traditional journals.
• University Libraries has decreased expenses associated with the collections budget (such as binding) by 56%. These expenses have been reduced from $535,994 in FY2008 to $237,100 in FY2014.

University Libraries has worked with the UNLV administration to sustain the Libraries’ budget during a period of nominal funding increases to the campus. In Spring 2014 the Libraries implemented a serials assessment that resulted in cutting the base collections budget by $650,000 by cancelling low-use journal and database subscriptions. At the same time, the university administration agreed to add an additional $400,000 to the Libraries’ base collections budget over the next two biennia to offset inflation for remaining continuing resources, enabling the Libraries to maintain the current level of subscriptions over the next four years. While these inflation allocations prevent erosion of our current continuing resources, they provide no funding for new subscriptions. 

The Libraries will continue to assess cost and use-data in consultation with faculty and other users to ensure our collections meet teaching, research, and community engagement needs in support of UNLV’s goal to become a top tier research university. 

If you have any questions regarding the Libraries’ collection budget, please contact Cory Tucker, Head of Continuing Resources & Collections at or 702-895-2133.