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The Library Budget and the Battle for Access to Information

Albertsons Library has been and will always be the Boise State community’s research partner and information access champion.  However, we’ve been fighting an uphill battle for access to information on your behalf, and by 2019 we reached a critical turning point.


The Challenge

Although the Library appropriated acquisitions budget has seen some increases, it has not been enough to maintain existing collections or keep pace with the rapid growth of new degrees and programs.  Here’s Why:

  • Since 2010, inflation on library subscription prices has averaged 6% per year
  • Many publishers are sole source: to purchase critical research journals on your behalf, there is only one publisher available
  • Many publishers base their subscription costs on the number of students at an institution; as the University’s student population grows, the cost to maintain existing journal subscriptions grows
  • Some publishers base their subscription costs on Carnegie Classification; As Boise State’s Carnegie status has risen, so has the cost of retaining existing subscriptions

The Impact

The resulting impact of this challenge by 2019?

  • Nearly 100% of the acquisitions budget was dedicated to annual subscriptions consisting of e-journal, databases, and e-resources content, while the number of subscriptions purchased has dropped 14%
  • Funding for new materials to support new degrees & research is non-existent; although the Library maintains a list of pending requests for new materials from faculty & academic departments, it is unlikely that any of these will be purchased
  • Funding to make one-time purchases (books, ebooks, media, streaming video, etc.) dropped 78%, from $403,500 in 2012 to less than $100,000
  • The Library has resorted to borrowing books via Interlibrary Loan or buying short term access to books (“short term loans”) rather than purchasing the books and adding them to our collection because it’s less expensive
  • The Library’s acquisitions budget shortfall for FY20 is estimated at $220,000
  • Inflation on existing subscriptions is projected to add another $100,000-$150,000 in a shortfall in FY21

Short Term Strategies

  • The Dean of the Library, Tracy Bicknell-Holmes, allocated one-time funds from endowments to make one-time purchases and prop up subscriptions through fiscal year FY20.  Due to small-sized endowments that are dependent on the market and interest rates, these funds will be depleted and unavailable for several years to come.  Additional one-time carry forward funds were allocated in FY21 to preserve additional subscriptions.
  • The Faculty Senate established an Ad Hoc Library Committee in spring 2021. The Committee is investigating library funding models and comparing funding at our peer institution libraries, and will make recommendations for changes.
  • Subscription and Journal Package Reviews
  • The Collections Council established a task force in fall 2019 to investigate 1) potential library consortium memberships to expand Albertsons Library’s access to resources and 2) alternatives to purchasing content.  Phase 1 is complete, Phase 2 in the final stages.
  • Renegotiating vendor contracts to reduce costs and inflation, and maximize content and access to research.

Striving for Sustainability

If the acquisitions shortfall is not addressed in a more systematic and drastic way, the Library will continue to experience a budget deficit every year, which will necessitate a significant reduction in resources and purchasing power.

We are passionately exploring innovative alternatives to purchased content so we can stabilize our buying power and develop greater flexibility in the future.  The Library and its staff and faculty are committed to the academic and scholarly success of the university’s students, faculty, researchers and community members.

We will continue to:

  • Efficiently manage resources so we can obtain what you need when you need it
  • Develop and enhance our institutional repository, ScholarWorks
  • Partner with groups across campus to explore Open Access (OA) and Open Education Resource (OER) initiatives –
  • Borrow materials for you through Interlibrary Loan if we don’t own them
  • Provide discovery and access to Open Access journals, books, content, and government documents through our catalog WorldCat Discovery as we are able

We are committed to being good stewards of state and student funds, providing access to essential resources, and providing support and resources to help you utilize the content we provide. No matter how difficult the situation, we will never cease advocating for your right to access the information you need.

Last updated – 11/18/2020