By Dan Gjelten, director, O’Shaughnessy-Frey Library Center

The rapidly growing cost of journal subscriptions is becoming a serious problem in the world of academic library economics. Journal subscription prices have increased by more than 10 percent annually for the last several years — a rate that is far higher than the cost of living and higher than any other category of library materials. Our total print materials budget (covering both books and journals) has remained relatively constant over this period, which has necessitated reductions in the books allocation of the budget to pay for journal increases.

Some academic libraries have responded to this crisis by undertaking large journal cancellation projects. Others have tried to substitute electronic resources for print subscriptions. In many cases, libraries have “robbed” the books budget to pay for their journals. While we once devoted about 40 percent of our budget to journals and the rest to books, the allocation now is reversed (journals taking almost two-thirds of our materials budget) and the spread is growing.

It is our goal at the UST Libraries to maintain a 60/40 balance in our budget, with 60 percent allocated to journals and 40 percent to books. In order to maintain this balance, and given the level of funding that we anticipate receiving in the coming year, the libraries will be reviewing our current subscriptions with the goal of reducing those costs by 10-15 per cent. Our intention is to manage this reduction in cooperation with the faculty and to make intelligent decisions based on several factors, including:

  • Cost of the subscription
  • Usage of the journal, as measured by the library
  • Availability of the journal in electronic formats in databases
  • Accreditation requirements

Please be prepared for a conversation with your library liaison on this issue.

Any questions can be referred to your library liaison or any of the three library directors:

  • I can be reached at O’Shaughnessy-Frey Library Center: (651) 962-5005;
  • Keffer Library: Janice Kragness, (651) 962-4645;
  • Archbishop Ireland Memorial Library: Mary Martin, (651) 965-5451.


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