The University Library Committee (ULC) reviews,
consults on, advises, plans for, and receives reports and recommendations
on the performance of library services, automation, budget, administrative
structure, and allocation of resources. Responsibility for keeping
the faculty informed of major issues and for creating opportunities
for the faculty to discuss priorities also falls to the committee
(See Faculty Policies and Procedures 6.46 B).
The libraries at the UW-Madison are at a crossroad.
Throughout the history of the University, libraries have been
the intellectual foundation of a world-class educational institution.
Whether the classics, the latest novel, or data for scholarly
research, the libraries have served faculty, students, and the
citizens of Wisconsin in their quest for new knowledge.
But the libraries face a troubling future.
As journal prices escalate in the double digits each year, as
book costs increase only slightly less than that, and as new
electronic media place added demands on a limited collections
budget, the UW-Madison library system has failed to keep pace
with libraries of peer institutions across the United States
and is now in grave danger of failing to persist as the core
of a world-class university.
This matter should be of concern not just
to faculty and students, but to all citizens of Wisconsin. The
economic health of the entire state, and often the health and
well being of its citizens, depend upon the libraries information
services. The Law, Physics, and Business libraries now buy only
those books used in classes foregoing the much larger literature
that comprises essential reference material now and in the future.
Budget problems have led to staff reductions, further eroding
the ability of the libraries to serve students and faculty.
During the past five years, when the legislature
s budgetary appropriations have been largely stagnant, the UW-Madison
has been overtaken and passed in acquisitions expenditures by
several universities including North Carolina, Pennsylvania State
University, Ohio State, and Indiana. If there is no increase
during the next biennium, Georgia, Iowa and Texas are among the
universities that will move ahead of the UW-Madison. The University
of Michigan, previously a peer university in terms of acquisitions,
now has an acquisitions budget of approximately $14 million,
more than $6 million greater than UW-Madison s acquisitions budget.
A differential of this magnitude means that students at the University
of Michigan will have access to the best information resources
whether books, journals, reference materials, or electronic data
bases. Wisconsin s students also deserve the best.
The Troubling Future
For the past six years, the UW libraries acquisitions
budget has received very limited increases, and it likely will
receive little, if any, increase in 1998-99. As startling as
this is, it is more startling that other libraries in the region
have been doing very well in their acquisitions budgets and so
Wisconsin's ability to maintain excellence, even in the Midwest,
is now seriously compromised. Figure 1 (See PDF
file) shows the percentage increase (3-year average) in acquisitions
budget of neighboring universities. Notice that Wisconsin s percentage
increase over this period has been zero.
In the face of a static acquisitions budget,
the libraries face dramatic price increases for journals and
Figure 2 (See PDF
file) depicts the ten-year change in book purchases.
In Figure 3 (See PDF
file) we see the corresponding change in the purchase price of
serials (journals) and the resulting drop in the number of serials
The price increases affecting the libraries
can be illustrated with reference to Figure 4 (See PDF
file). Here we show total book and serial expenditures for the
UW-Madison libraries. Notice that as serials prices have increased
at twice the rate of monograph prices, the necessity to maintain
serials collections has begun to "crowd out" monograph
Yet another way to assess the impact of rising
serial and monograph prices, and flat acquisitions budgets, is
to compare current expenditures against a base of 1976-77. In
Figure 5 (See PDF file) notice that
the UW-Madison libraries (the General Library System GLS) spent
approximately $1 million on domestic (U.S.)serials in 1976-77
(left histogram in Figure 5). That same bundle of serials would
cost, in 1996-97 dollars, approximately $3.5 million. But our
acquisitions budget has not kept pace with these price increases
and so in 1996-97 the UW-Madison libraries spent only slightly
more than $2 million on domestic serials.
While the picture is not so grim for domestic
monograph purchases, the same problem arises there. We see from
Figure 6 (See PDF file) that the GLS
spent approximately $400,000 on monographs in 1976-77; today
that specific purchase would cost over $1 million. In fact, because
of budget problems, the libraries now spend somewhat less than
$800,000 to acquire domestic monographs.
The continued flat budget for library collections
has forced campus librarians to adopt various coping strategies.
One strategy that has successfully prevented further erosion
of the book collection has been the decision to maintain 1998
expenditures for serials (journals) published by commercial publishers
at 1997 levels. This "capping" exercise led to the
cancellation of some 600 subscriptions costing $256,400, of which
$103,000 was for serials published by Elsevier Science. This
particular publisher has increased serials prices by at least
10 percent each year since the mid-1980s; at these rates their
prices double in less than seven years.
While $103,000 may not seem like a large amount
of savings, it represents the total 1997/98 budget for serials,
books, newspapers, microforms, and videos in College Library.
It is also the equivalent of the combined budgets for library
collections in Scandinavian humanities and East Asian studies.
These funds will permit the purchase of approximately
2,300 books during the current year. The total savings in serials
subscriptions by the "capping" exercise ($256,400)
will allow the purchase of approximately 5,700 books. It is also
equivalent to the annual acquisitions funding available to the
Biology Library, the African Studies collection, and the Reserve
Projections from the publishing industry suggest
that serials prices will once again increase by at least 10 percent
in 1999. In addition, the annual cost of purchasing access to
Lexis/Nexis, the most heavily used database of electronic information
on campus, will increase from $21,600 to $60,000 next year. This
price increase could be even larger if negotiations with Reed-Elsevier,
its owner, break down. This single example illustrates the ominous
budgetary implications of electronic information.
The Coming Budget Crisis with Electronic
There is a general belief that electronic
information will save the libraries money. This supposition is
not true. There are, at the moment, three general pricing arrangements
for electronic information.
Access to the full-text electronic format
is free for those individuals and libraries currently subscribing
to the print format of he title. We do not believe that this
service will remain free. Access is free
for a limited and specified period (perhaps a trial period) after
which time there will be a surcharge. Access
is priced as indicated below:
Several major publishers have announced prices
for access to their journals in electronic format. Pricing for
access to the electronic format is usually based on a bundled
subscription to both print and electronic formats. Usually, the
cost for electronic access is a surcharge on the cost of the
print subscription. Such surcharges range from a few percentage
points to 25 percent or more of the print version. Some publishers
(Elsevier) charge one rate for access to all of their journals
but a higher rate if the subscriber (the libraries) wants only
a subset of the titles.
For example, Elsevier is currently offering
Science Direct (a full text electronic product) for a surcharge
of 7.5 percent until July 1, 1998. In 1999 and 2000 the price
will increase by 9 percent each year. If a library elected to
access only selected titles in full text, the surcharge would
be 15 percent of the cost of the titles selected, with no guaranteed
cap on future annual increases.
In addition to the surcharges, some publishers
require an "access" or "technology" fee that
can be as high as $1 per potential user. The issue here is how
a "user" is defined. A user could be defined as a full-time
student equivalent (FTE) at UW-Madison, or it could be defined
as FTEs of students, faculty, and staff.
Plan of Action to Restore Library Purchasing
The University Library Committee is concerned
with the general budgetary situation of the University Libraries.
While much attention has been devoted to the rapid escalation
in costs of serials and the implications of that for acquisitions
we note that budgetary problems exist in the area of staffing,
capital equipment, and technology. For example, the automation
budget has been flat for the past 6 years. The libraries have
been caught in the same budget squeeze as the rest of the university.
The difference is that departments and colleges often have private
gift funds or the research funds of their faculties to substitute
for the lack of state resources. The libraries do not have that
option. And a book or journal that is not purchased this year
is not likely to be purchased next year.
As seen above, the coming necessity to acquire
both print and electronic formats of many serials means that
future price escalations will arise from yet another source tied
sales of both formats. This means that ongoing cancellations
of existing journals will need to accelerate in the near future
if the libraries are to have the budgetary flexibility to purchase
the new electronic materials.
In this regard it is important to understand
the difference between the "electronic library" and
access to "electronic resources." The first idea concerns
full-text access to the full array of materials in a particular
library, while the latter refers to full-text access to new materials.
Both options are very expensive and we do not see anything in
the near future that will work to reduce those costs.
The University Library Committee believes
that several avenues of approach must be pursued to stress the
importance of the libraries. These are:
- Electronic Resources Across the Curriculum
- The UW-Madison libraries will devote more
emphasis to the availability of electronic information for all
undergraduates. This is a shared undertaking of the libraries
and of the faculty to make sure that undergraduates have access
to the information resources they require.
- Revitalizing the Wisconsin Idea
- The UW-Madison, with its long tradition of
research valuable to citizens throughout Wisconsin, cannot maintain
that combination of excellence and relevance without a major
infusion of funds for acquisition of necessary information resources.
The University Library Committee urges faculty and staff to help
us identify those information resources that are essential to
the revitalization of the Wisconsin Idea.
- The Libraries as a Collective Asset and
a Collective Responsibility
- The information resources of the UW-Madison
libraries exist to serve all members of the university community,
and all citizens of Wisconsin. These information resources are
a collective good that must be maintained for the benefit of
the current population, as well as for the generations who will
follow. The gradual degradation of the quality of the information
resources in the UW-Madison libraries must be a serious concern
for all citizens of Wisconsin. The University Library Committee
seeks the commitment of faculty, students, and staff of the UW-Madison
to work hard to restore the excellence of the libraries so that
they may continue to serve as the intellectual core of this great
Serials and Collections
- This year ULC adopted a set of principles
for managing serial cancellations in a time of severe budgetary
constraint. While a major research library cannot set cancellation
policies solely on the cost of serials, cost should be one of
the factors taken into account. The collection staff was encouraged
to monitor the use of all serials that exhibit one or more of
the following characteristics: 1) an annual cost in excess of
$2,000; 2) an annual cost per use in excess of $40 or 1-2 percent
of annual subscription costs; or 3) annual cost increases in
excess of 10 percent. When one or more of these criteria are
present, ULC recommended that the items be flagged for consideration
for possible cancellation, subject, of course, to feedback from
the user community. ULC also recommended that information on
the cost of subscription and cost-per-use for individual serials
be added to the list of proposed cancellations posted on the
Electronic Library web page, so that this information is known
ULC devoted attention to the relative balance
in collection policy between serials and monographs--a balance
that, it recognizes, will of necessity vary from one campus library
to another, given the differences among the disciplines. A study
of relative expenditures since 1990 on monographs and serials
in 18 CIC and UW peer group libraries indicates that the average
proportion of budgets spent on monographs has dropped vis-a-vis
serials. This is true of Madison libraries as well: in 1995/96
campus libraries purchased 58,000 monographs--down 14 percent
from 1994/95 and 21 percent from 1990/91. By contrast, the number
of serial subscriptions declined by only 2 percent from 1994/95
and 10 percent from 1990/91. Still, significant serial cancellations
have been a fact of life for many years now. Over the past decade,
a total of 6,250 journals have been canceled from our libraries,
with 709 titles canceled in the current year alone (We currently
subscribe to about 44,000 serial titles). In the past, 66 percent
of the serials canceled were duplicate subscriptions; last year
that figure dropped to 44 percent and this year to 17 percent,
reflecting the fact that serial cancellations are now digging
much more deeply into the quality of our core collections (as
they are expected to do even more in the next biennium).
Further investigation indicated that the shift
in collection emphasis from monographs to serials has so far
been a phenomenon confined largely to the natural sciences, and
that the proportion of expenditures devoted to monographs in
social science, humanities, and area studies has remained constant
over the last six years. This pattern largely reflects changes
in publication and consumption patterns within the natural sciences
toward serial and electronic form. The degree to which parallel
changes have been occurring within the social sciences and humanities
is the subject of an ongoing Wisconsin-Purdue research project.
ULC called on library selection staff to continue to work with
faculty to ensure that imbalance between serials and monographs
does not become a problem. To monitor library policy on the issue,
ULC has requested that the library administration provide ULC
with a report on purchases, cancellations, and expenditures for
serials and monographs by discipline on an annual basis.
It should be noted that campus libraries have
aggressively pursued other ways to manage our erosion of buying
power than canceling the purchase of material. Through efforts
at negotiated savings with publishers and cost avoidance, our
libraries last year saved $565,000--funds which were used toward
further purchase of materials. Examples of such savings include
a policy change requiring the purchase of paperbacks as opposed
to hard cover monographs (saving $40,000 annually), commercial
document delivery in place of low-use, high-cost journals (saving
$220,000 annually), and CIC and other consortial licensing and
purchase agreements (saving $150,000 annually).
As ULC has noted in the past, today's budgetary,
collecting, and publishing environments have imposed significant
changes on what it means to build and maintain research-level
collections. While faculty rank completeness of collections as
their top priority with regard to libraries, no longer are we
financially capable of viewing completeness of collections as
an end in itself. Rather, effective management of library collections
at a time of budgetary constraint must seek to orient collecting
to serve the needs of specific groups of current and future users.
To accomplish this, improved communication between users and
selectors is a high priority. To help facilitate user access
to information about the library, and particularly about proposed
serials cancellations, ULC recommended changes to the library's
electronic web page, allowing more direct access by users to
ULC reports and to information on the status of serials. ULC
also recommended that the library provide a link to the appropriate
librarian's name on the serial cancellations web page so that
users may respond directly to selectors about proposed cancellations
To improve the focus of collection, greater
attention needs to be paid toward integrating library collection
activity with the future development of academic programs at
the university. Libraries need to be informed about changes in
programs or staffing that will affect library acquisitions. ULC
continues to explore concrete proposals for how this should best
Collections and Resources
The ULC spent a great deal of time trying
to comprehend and address the problems related to the flat budget
for the collections. Librarian Louis Pitschmann, Collection Development
and Preservation, described the current cost-control initiatives
which included journal cancellations, specifically-negotiated
discounts on print and electronic resources, and collaborative
efforts with the other CIC libraries to address these issues.
The flat budget becomes more serious as it impedes keeping pace
with let alone leading in the acquisition and development of
electronic technologies and materials.
Feedback from faculty about the effects of
the cutbacks is at present largely anecdotal and restricted to
a few departments and schools. Some faculty appear to believe
that the availability of electronic journals and interlibrary
loan services will more than compensate for reduced access to
paper journals, and they seem unaware that availability of on-line
journals depends on buying licenses that are more expensive than
In the near future the ULC is planning to
solicit direct feedback from the faculty to determine how they
and their students have been affected by the serials and collections
cutbacks. The e-mail questionnaire is being formulated in consultation
with Sandra Pfahler of the Library Staff. Information from the
survey will be available on the General Library System website.
The demand for library resources is affected
by changes in academic programs and faculty hiring. Currently
the library has no advance warning of these changes. Approval
of new departments, programs, centers, and institutes (as well
as phasing out of same) must be obtained from the University
Academic Planning Council and/or the Graduate Faculty Executive
Committee. The ULC has requested that these university oversight
committees require a Library Impact Statement as a part of the
review process for approval of academic program changes. This
impact statement would include:
the degree to which current resources are
adequate to support the new program or hire; what
additional library resources would be needed at start-up;
what library resources would be needed to support
the program over time.
Space is an issue in most of the libraries.
The ULC reviewed the guidelines used by Memorial Library to weed
duplicate copies of collections. These guidelines are presently
in effect, and the ULC plans no further action in this matter.
General Library System Director Kenneth Frazier
and Automation Specialist Nolan Pope met with the ULC and provided
a synopsis of the Request for Proposal for the new University
of Wisconsin System Integrated Library and Information Access
System and a description of the University-wide task force. The
four major areas of focus involve: a) planning for the new integrated
library system; b) consideration of access controls; c) development
of the CIC Virtual Electronic Library (VEL); and d) development
of electronic publishing.
The Request for Proposal has been available
on line at www.library.wisc.edu:4000/RFP/
Library Services and User Education
Last year's ULC commented on the increased
need for instruction of library users on campus, due in particular
to the curricular demands of the required Courses A and B and
to the ever-increasing number of tools and resources available.
These realities remain very prominent.
An area of particular interest this year has
been the excellent instructional program offered by library staff.
A wide range of topics is being covered in a regular program
of instruction. These range from sessions for specifically targeted
groups individual courses for members of a particular discipline
to drop-in workshops on basic use of library resources Introduction
to MADCAT, for instance. While we find a very high level of expertise
and accessibility in the librarians' efforts, the adequate sustenance
of these efforts will require attention to ongoing needs. Perhaps
most pressing is the increased need for professional development
opportunities so that the librarians can keep pace with the rapid
introduction of new resources and technology. This is often chiefly
a matter of finding the time for staff members to pursue professional
development opportunities. While not the most conspicuous need
in the libraries, it is one with which the staff wrestles daily.
Other user-education issues and concerns include
the rapid obsolescence of expensive teaching equipment and facilities,
increasing demands related to distance education, and the need
to improve the level of two-way communication between faculty
and librarians. This latter topic, in particular, has been discussed
at some length and will continue to be a key area of interest.
The committee believes that librarians on this campus are an
under-used resource. Well-trained and up to date on issues of
information retrieval that are now a necessary part not only
of research agendas but of undergraduate and graduate instruction,
they have much to offer both faculty and students. It is important
to include librarians in the circle of information on matters
ranging from course assignments to new hires and programs. Departments
need to know, too, that librarians are happy to come to departments
to discuss relevant issues and, if desired, conduct workshops
germane to particular areas of study.
The ULC has also reviewed policies related
both to faculty and staff and to students. The new Memorial Library
check-out period and return policy is now in its second year.
Experience has been largely favorable. Thousands of books have
been returned, while librarians have been able to accommodate
the special research needs of most faculty and staff affected
by the policy. Some 400 books have been declared lost as a result
of this process. The policy is on a three-year trial basis and
the committee will continue to review its implementation.
We are also currently reviewing the standing
policy and practice on fines for overdue and lost books. Some
revision of that document is in order and is proceeding, partly
on the advice of the committee. Other major research libraries
are being surveyed regarding their fines and billing policies
and practice; those findings will inform the further work on
our own policy.
The ULC also observes that the installation
of the Virtual Electronic Library (VEL) now makes it possible
for patrons to order Interlibrary Loan items directly themselves.
Faculty are encouraged to investigate this option, which should
reduce the time required to obtain most books through interlibrary
loan. The UW libraries have the best record in the CIC cluster
on turn-around of interlibrary loan orders received. If other
libraries will learn from us as some are trying to do the speed
with which our own interlibrary requests are honored may improve
Finally, we note with pleasure the recently-announced
and well-deserved Academic Staff Excellence in Leadership award
to our member, Abbie Loomis, the Director of User Education for
the past ten years.
Background on the University's Library System
The General Library System (GLS) includes
Memorial, College, Steenbock, University Archives, and 11 other
member libraries. The collection budget for Wendt Engineering
Library is also under GLS. There are three independent professional
libraries: Health Sciences, Law, and Engineering. There are also
24 special purpose libraries. In accordance with an agreement
established between the University of Wisconsin and the State
Historical Society in 1954, the State Historical Society Library
is the library of record for American history for our campus
and the UW System. Although it does not receive its base budget
through the university, it receives substantial annual support
from campus. There are also numerous small collections and reading
rooms not subsumed under any of the above categories.
The ULC has 19 members: 8 elected faculty
(2 from each division, with four-year terms); 2 appointed academic
staff, with four-year terms; 2 elected library staff, with two-year
terms; the Director of GLS; 1 elected representative of the Library
Coordinating Council (a management body that represents campus
libraries and coordinates their policies and activities); 2 appointed
representatives from the Office of Budget, Planning, and Analysis
and the Office of the Provost; and 3 appointed students. The
8 faculty, 2 academic staff, and 3 students have voting privileges
(see Faculty Policies and Procedures 6.46 A).