UO Libraries collections budget reduced by $565,000

UO Libraries is cutting its collection budget by over half a million dollars this year in response to administration’s realignment process.

Collections technically encompass all the media the library owns. The cuts will not affect permanent additions to the library like the books on the shelf. The areas that will face the most cuts are the databases and scholarly journals that require annual subscriptions.

“We’re currently launching a plan to work with faculty to decide what will need to be cut,” Dean of Libraries Adriene Lim said.

The collection budget is split up by discipline, such as physics, psychology or comparative literature. Most departments are taking a cut of 12.4 percent. Overall the sciences will take the biggest hit, as their initial budget is generally much higher than other departments’. Accounting for the inflation, the biology department’s budget will be cut by $34,240, physics by $47,379 and chemistry by $60,923. General sciences, which has by far the biggest budget, will be cut in half, losing $75,320.

“In the science, technology, engineering and medical areas, the costs for the journals, for example, are much, much greater,” Mark Watson, associate dean for research services, said. “A physics journal could cost $4,000 a year, and a journal in the humanities could cost $400 a year.”

While the cuts in the science’s budgets are much higher, humanities departments often feel the cuts much deeper. Their journals are cheaper, so it will take cutting more resources to reach the target budget.

“I’m not saying the chemists aren’t going to miss this big, expensive database that we’re going to have to cut,” Watson said. “But in English literature, for example, if we have to cut twelve journals to get enough to actually meet that 12.4 percent, that’s 12 different, distinct things that people were depending on. And now they’re not there anymore.”

Departments with budgets less than $3,000 will not take any cuts.

The cuts are a response to President Michael Schill’s realignment plan. Administration asked all departments on campus to cut spending by 2 percent this year. Unfortunately for the library, many of their databases get more expensive year to year.

Watson said the library submitted a strategic budget request asking for money to cover the inflating prices of their current subscriptions. Not only was that request denied, but they were hit with the additional 2 percent cut that affected the rest of campus. Two positions were laid off.

“In the library, if we stay status quo, we’re really losing. You have to add money to the pot,” Watson said. “It’s like boiling something on the stove. You’re going to lose liquid in the pot when some of it vaporizes.”

While the two percent cut was only responsible for  a budget loss of $115,000, according to a memo sent out by Dean Lim, the denial of the library’s  strategic budget request means an additional loss of $450,000 when factoring in inflation.

Reductions are not new to the library, Watson said. “I went clear back to 1960, and figured out that on average, we have done this every five years,” he said. That’s an average though, as the library has gone through long periods of ease and other, shorter periods of strife.

“We get upset about it every time it happens, but in reality, this is kind of the way things operate. I think universities and libraries are starting to realize that it’s really not going to change unless some bigger, more systematic and structural changes occur,” Watson said. “For one thing, all of our professors do all this research. They publish it, and by and large, it is given away to companies who then repackage and sell it back to us at inflated prices. So we ought to look at that and say, ‘Wait a minute. Something is wrong with this picture, right?’ ”

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Noah McGraw

Noah McGraw

Noah is the 2016-17 Senior News Editor at the Emerald. His earliest journalistic influences were Tom Wolfe, Eric Schlosser and Batman. He loves '70s comics, '80s action movies and '90s music.