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 monographs.

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 purchased.

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 purchases.

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 Reading collection.

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 Information

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 Power

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 (ERAC)
      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 university.

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 to users.

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 via E-mail.

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 be accomplished.

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 hard-copy subscriptions.

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

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 still more.

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).