EMU's Halle Library's budget cutting getting serious

Halle Library is preparing for another wave of academic cancellations this year, despite growing concerns that the library’s materials collection budget is dangerously low on funding. To stay within its budget, the library will be canceling $121,000 in academic materials.

The library, like many other areas of the university, has been forced to make cuts for the last few years. In particular, the library’s acquisitions budget has been the focus of a lot of concern from both students and staff alike.

The acquisitions budget is the money the university uses to make purchase of academic materials like library books, academic journals and electronic databases. Since 2005, the budget has remained mostly unchanged despite the cost of academic materials steadily inflating between five and 10 percent each year.

Bob Kelly, the collection development librarian, collaborated with other university librarians and released a list Tuesday, detailing what was to be canceled for the next academic year.

“The university librarians have identified over $121,000 worth of content to be canceled beginning in FY 2012-13,” Kelly’s report read. “After five years of canceling, we are now faced with the need to cancel electronic content.”

The list of materials up for cancellation can be found on the library’s website under “library research guides.”

The most valuable materials to be cut are the online materials. The American Society of Microbiologists Package and the Chronicle of Higher Education/Chronicle of Philanthropy Package, are both facing cancellation, saving the library $6,200 and $8,500 respectively.

The largest single cut was access to RefWorks, an entire online database package used to organize and access huge amounts of material. RefWorks will no longer be available to students or staff, saving the library $15,706.

Most of the materials canceled were of low use – items that had under 20 views in the past three years.

Some of the materials cut had higher use statistics, but for the most part the cuts were merely the print versions of journals the library still has electronic versions of. For example, the American Criminal Law Review, New York Magazine and ABA Banking Journal will no longer be available in print but can still be found in the library’s online databases such as Gale and ProQuest.

But some canceled materials will not have an electronic version to fall back on. The print versions of Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, BBC
Wildlife and the American Journal of Archaeology, are all up for cancellation and have no electronic version accessible through Halle Library.

According to John Lumm, EMU’s chief financial officer, the university administration will decide what to do about the library’s budget this June, when the board of regents meet to decide on next year’s academic budget.

“We don’t start at ground zero,” Lumm said. “We look at all elements of spending. We talk to the various heads of the organizations and ask them to identify how to save some money and what their critical funding priorities are. Those two things allow us to put together a budget.”

The university administration has been receiving input from many angles in the university.

Kelly gave a presentation in front of the faculty senate on Feb. 1, to express his concern about budget woes. A few days later, on Feb. 7, Student Government President Jelani McGadney sent a letter of similar concern to the administration on behalf of Student Government.

“You can’t hold this budget flat forever,” Lumm said. “This will have to be on the list of things we look at. I don’t think there’s anyone here who will allow us to get to this point where the funding for our library is at a point where it can’t serve its purpose.”

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