Librarians turn to students, faculty for help in picking resources to cut
University libraries are turning to faculty and students for help in picking the thousands of journals that will be eliminated in coming years if the university fails to boost the libraries' base budget next year.
Lists of possible resources to cut from the UA's Main and Arizona Health-Sciences libraries are now available online, and teams representing different subject areas are soliciting feedback from the university community by June 1.
"We want to make the cuts as painless as possible," said Laurie Eagleson, associate librarian. "But when cutting that much, you can't always do that."
Each of the Main Library's four subject areas ÷ sciences, social sciences, humanities and general interests ÷ are scheduled to undergo an approximate 16 percent spending cut, decreasing the number of journals, periodicals and books students can access over the next two years.
The input received from faculty and students will be combined with other criteria like the journal's price, how frequently it's used and whether an alternate form is available.
Library Dean Carla Stoffle said criteria reflective of Focused Excellence and the university's broader strategic goals will also be taken into account.
"We want to reflect what's important on campus," Stoffle said.
But she warned that the cuts won't go unnoticed.
"That big of a cut is going to be felt by all departments on campus," Stoffle said.
The Arizona Health-Sciences Library is planning on cutting $100,000 in journals by the end of next year.
Both libraries have gone without new funding from the university for the past two years while struggling with the growing costs of books and journals.
Gary Freiburger, director of the Arizona Health-Sciences Library, said the medical library has cut its book budget in half.
He said the medical library could avoid cuts if either the state legislature gives the university more funds or the university puts the libraries higher up on its list of priorities.
"Both seem pretty unlikely at the moment," he said.
Freiburger warned that the university's research-focused mission will be compromised.
"Items with the lowest usage will be canceled, some in areas that are still very important but only have a few researchers working in them," he said.
The Law Library has already been cutting resource expenditures for the past two years, said Michael Chiorazzi, director of the Law Library.
Chiorazzi said the lack of new funding caused the Law Library to eliminate many paper versions in exchange for electronic databases, which excludes access to anyone who is not a law student or faculty member.
"It's been increasingly hard to support the university community. We have to first focus on law students, then the university community and then the local bar," he said. "We try and do what we can for them, but we can't support the mission of the library as we'd like to."
Librarians said interlibrary loans will allow students and faculty to obtain books and journals not available at the UA from libraries across the country. It typically takes two to four days to get the materials.
Stoffle said the UA libraries are not alone in struggling to keep their pool of resources from shrinking.
"The problems of higher costs and smaller state budgets are happening elsewhere in the country."
She said the problem might affect the pool of information available through the interlibrary loans but libraries are pulling together to keep that from happening.
"We're working with national groups finding ways to deal with this problem," Stoffle said.
"But for the short term we don't know. We just have to make the cuts and assume things will work out."
Stoffle said identifying the cuts has been "very time-consuming" for the librarians and faculty involved in the process. As a result, he said, librarians might be less available to perform their usual tasks.
But Eagleson said time usually spent deciding what new resources to bring into the library helps to make up for that.
"When you're spending all your time cutting you don't have to spend it buying."
To review the possible cancellations and give feedback, visit library.arizona.edu and click on Library Spending Reductions.