University Library Committee

Ask a Librarian

March 3, 2011

University Library Committee Minutes
Thursday, March 3, 2011

In attendance: A. Baha Balantekin, Sara Lazenby, Ed Van Gemert, Ken Frazier, Steve Barkhan, Cynthia Jasper, Elisabeth Owens, Carrie Kruse, John Pfotenhauer, Mary Rader, David Weimer, Sharad Punugauti, Lee Konrad, Eileen Cullen


Ed Van Gemert reports that there are a substantial number of retirements among library staff members.


Ken Frazier (KF) noted that there have been a series of meetings that have been helpful in navigating budget issues. These issues are a part of a context of other, inseparable issues, including the proposed public authority status for the university. A library staff meeting is scheduled for Monday to discuss what may happen in the event of a strike. The budget cut for the system is more than $250 million, half or more of which will come from Madison. While this is more than anticipated, it is not of an unprecedented scale: 2003-2005 cut was similar, and was accompanied by a large tuition increase. It is unlikely that such a tuition increase will occur this time. UW–Madison’s $125 million cut (biennial number) equals out to a 62.5% cut to the General Purpose Revenue over two years. An institutional cut of 13% will play out among schools as a cut of 6% or more. Cuts won’t be equal across board (e.g., departments like safety/security). Libraries operate largely on General Purpose Revenue; at this time we are anticipating a cut of 10–13%. Earlier this year, libraries across the UW System proposed an increase in acquisitions budget ($6 million for the system-wide Research Commons; Madison would receive 40% of that figure) which was a minimal figure relative to need. If no new money comes from the state, and we take a 10% cut in the budget, the Libraries will no longer be able to support core collections, large database subscriptions, and will no longer be able to participate in CIC purchases. We have requested an increase that amounts to $.5 million/year, $1.5 million over biennium; a reasonable minimum number. Provost DeLuca is sympathetic and interested. He said that discussions of exemptions are beginning, but cannot make promises. Without this increase, Libraries will not be able to support research in the extreme budget situation.

David Weimer: What percentage of total budget reflects acquisitions?

KF: About 1/3. Large amount goes to technical services, for processing. While we will try to protect collections budget, operations will not be protected. Staff numbers shrank in the last biennium and this will continue.

Ed Van Gemert (EVG) noted that InterLibrary Loan activities fall outside of the collections budget. More than any other institution, we buy and borrow many resources. In this challenging time for libraries, is ULC willing to discuss endorsing the idea of the libraries’ budget acquisition exemption?

A. Baha Balantekin (ABB): Libraries are a service similar to police; they cannot be cut. If the university is given public authority, there may be a reallocation of budget. Library services are increased, but budget lines are not increased.

EVG: The libraries accounted for 4.53% of the total campus 101 budget in FY11; down from 5.11% in FY06. UW–Madison used to be in the top ten in total library expenditures; we are close to 50th now. We are particularly low in electronic resources. Our overall ranking is relatively high, we are strong in number of staff compared to others. We used to be a net lender (people would pay us for our materials); now we are net borrowers (we pay others for materials).

ABB: If we ask for an increase in the acquisitions budget, cuts will need to be made elsewhere. KF: It will not be possible to avoid cuts. We will be having difficult conversations; we will not be able to maintain all services, and will need to restructure staff.

Mary Rader, speaking from the perspective of a subject specialist: For most selectors, these days it is less about collection development, and more about managing cuts in budgets: reductions, serials cancellation, etc. It is difficult to balance needs with money.

KF: When conversations about public authority status for UW–Madison were starting, faculty from other UWs were very concerned. Many come to Madison to use our collections. There was a concern that breaking up the system would reduce their access to collections. A resolution was made to CUWL that this institution remains committed to library cooperation across system. MR: Collections represent institutional support for research and scholarship, an important tool when recruiting scholars to the university.

EVG: I hope that students will take an interest in this. KF: Student usage of libraries is high. They care about access to libraries. If we are forced to make cuts, where shall we preserve services? For example, will we be able to preserve 24-hour service at College Library? There was discussion of how cuts are affecting other schools/departments on campus.

Sharad Punugauti asked how much allocated to IT? KF: 10-15% or more. IT is so integrated in every area that funding comes from everywhere. Electronic resources make up 50% of the libraries’ budget.

Sara Lazenby asked how increased flexibility could benefit the libraries. The storage facility is funded by privately-raised money and campus overhead. The state building process would charge at least 4% for approval; that would be saved. EVG: The state & system do not feel compelled to support a research library system. We hope that the university would support us more. DW asked about personnel issues (classified system, restructuring, etc). KF: We have done well in a unionized environment; we have maintained good relationships. More flexibility could help in that the classified system would be OUR classified system. Point from DW is an important piece (position control). Even if funding was available, we would still have to get approval for new positions. Increased autonomy may make it easier to create positions.

EVG asked about updates to the Libraries’ development representative. KF: UW Foundation is reorganizing, with more focus on principled gifts: big donors for big projects. The representative from UW Foundation who used to work for us will be reassigned. Money from private fundraising may be used as seed money to establish permanent development position for Libraries. UW–Madison may take more of an endowment/private funds tack. DW: Students are another audience for this message.

KF: We will work on a resolution in support of library acquisitions budget (not entire budget) being exempted. The acquisitions budget is not spent on the library. The library spends it for the benefit of the university community.

Meeting adjourned; will meet next on Thursday, April 7.


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