Library acquisitions not yet hurt by budget cuts


Although UI Libraries won’t feel the full effects from budget cuts announced earlier this month, those at the UI Main Library are still prepared to make adjustments if necessary.

Library acquisitions — academic resources used by students — haven’t been targeted for reductions just yet, said Edward Shreeves, an associate UI librarian and director of collections.

The university administration sees value in the books, journals, maps, magazines, audio and visual material, online databases, and other packages of information in the collection, he said.

This fiscal year, the UI Libraries acquisitions budget totaled more than $11 million, except for the Law Library, which has its own budget, Shreeves said.

But while UI student Sam Bill thinks the acquisitions can be useful, they’re sometimes overwhelming.

“[The library gives] you so many and most of them you don’t even need,” she said of the databases, which she added are sometimes difficult to navigate.

The sophomore said these library resources are helpful when it comes to academic research.

“Most teachers want many resources for papers,” she said.

According to library reports, the top three most accessed licensed databases from the 2007-08 school year are Academic Search Elite, UpToDate, and ISI Web of Science.

And most acquisitions aren’t cheap.

The UI library website shows the cost of journal subscriptions has increased significantly since the 1990s because corporate publishers perpetuate high prices and strict regulations.

Shreeves noted most of the journal titles supplied by the UI today are electronic.

And even though electronic resources use less tangible material, they’re still not any less expensive.

Shreeves said the UI has some journals that cost upwards of $20,000 a year.

Additionally, the cost of running databases such as Web of Knowledge, PyschINFO, and Business Source Premier amount to well over five or six figures annually, Shreeves said.

Bill, a sociology and psychology double major, said it wouldn’t be a problem to students if the UI canceled one of these subscriptions to stretch its budget, because not all students use this tool.

“I think if they had to do it for their budget that it wouldn’t hurt the students or cause problems for them,” she said.

This rise in journal costs has caused many academic Libraries to purchase fewer titles because publishers create “all-or-nothing” journal bundles, taking away their freedom to select titles they think are most useful to the community, a UI Libraries wesbite shows.

For the most part, Shreeves said, older acquisitions are archived because researchers often consult old material. But they weed out obsolete or misleading resources.

Shreeves said he doesn’t think it would be smart to cut back on acquisitions spending, but no new additions will be made at this time.

“I think it [wouldn’t] end up saving very much money and doing harm to the overall academic enterprise,” Shreeves said about a large cutback.

Regardless of any library reduction, Shreeves said, library officials are still prepared to use the money wisely.

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