Library to lose some collections

Library to lose some collections

Library to lose some collections
March 03
00:16 2015

Steven James / Senior Staff Writer

Budget shortfalls and increases in archive collection costs may cause UNT Libraries to lose access to some archives and databases by the end of this semester.

Library services are paid for by student tuition fees. The library’s total budget is $16.5 million, which UNT Libraries dean Martin Halbert said is steadily shrinking.

Halbert said the libraries were expecting a $3 million shortfall, but former provost and vice president for academic affairs Warren Burggren had provided nearly $2 million to help with the deficit.

Assistant dean for collection management Sian Brannon said the libraries have yet to determine which collections will be cut, but library officials should know by the end of May. 

Brannon said before knowing which exact collections to cut, usage of resources, journals, costs and other factors will need to be examined.

“At this point, the library’s collection development department is gathering very large amounts of data to aid in the decision making process,” Brannon said. “We will need to analyze this data and discuss our options with the dean, librarians, vendors and our constituents.”

Brannon said cuts will not be made without thinking about which resources are most valuable to students.

“Our philosophy in making decisions about budget cuts is a student-centered philosophy,” she said. “We are hoping it has little impact on the students.”

Halbert said increasing prices for academic journals, especially ones from foreign countries, contributed to the cuts.

The libraries bought certain academic journals to help UNT compete with other research universities, but Halbert said because of an overflow of published research in specific journals, each journal was able to control its own prices without worrying about interference from outside input.

Halbert said the libraries must pay $1.5 million to Elsevier Publishing in order to keep certain medical and scientific collections for the Health Science Center in Fort Worth. He said the libraries may need to bring in $500,000 more a year to prevent more resources from being cut.

He said some journal packages have an annual price increase of 10 to 15 percent per year.

“Those kinds of super inflationary rates are unreasonable,” Halbert said. “We are going to cut the resource that isn’t priced reasonably.”

Halbert said there will be no layoffs, but vacant staff positions will not be filled in the near future.

“The library is at the heart of all campus activities,” Halbert said. “All the library staff really care about UNT students and faculty and really doing a right job by them.”

One of the library’s main attractions is the Texas Portal, which allows users to look up historical materials, such as newspapers and maps.

Halbert said the Texas Portal gets 6.5 million users per year and the door count from last semester is up 37 percent from the 2013-14 academic year. He said The Factory, which houses 3-D printing and scanning, has been used on a regular basis by students, staff and faculty since opening in October.

“We’re focused like a razor on student experiences,” Halbert said. “We’re going to continue to do good jobs for students.”

Assistant dean for external relations Dreanna Belden said most of the cuts will affect electronic databases, not print copies of books and collections.

“It’s more of a flattening of the budget than a cut,” Belden said. “I don’t think it’ll affect students much.”

Featured Image: Dean of UNT Libraries Dr. Martin Halbert

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