Skip to main content

Budget FAQ

Why are cancellations happening now?

Although the Library appropriated acquisitions budget has seen some increases since 2013, it has not been enough to maintain existing collections or keep pace with the rapid growth of new degrees and programs. We have been reducing expenses by eliminating duplication, canceling print when we also had electronic versions, etc. The easy decisions that don’t have much impact on our users have been made.

Is this the first time inflation has outstripped funding?

No, the Library has been assessing its collection and expenses on a continual basis. Reducing expenses and weeding are an ongoing part of the Library’s collections management. For example, in 2013, the Library canceled its large journal package with the publisher Wiley and subscribed to a smaller number of individual titles. This action led to a savings of $150,000. Since then, the costs of the individual subscribed Wiley titles have increased and now exceeded the original savings. In 2016, the Library canceled its e-journal package with Cambridge and subscribed to a smaller number of individual titles. Large cuts don’t happen often, but libraries are constantly working to align their collections with patron needs and fiscal realities.

What are “short-term loans?”

Short-term loans are ways that we can use an e-book without buying it outright. The transaction is invisible to the patron and is dictated by a set of parameters the Library establishes with the e-book vendors. If a patron only used the e-book once, or for a short period of time, a short-term loan of the book may be less expensive than purchasing it.

How do I know which titles were canceled?

We maintain lists of canceled titles arranged by fiscal year, (Collection Evaluations FY20). FY20 is the first year we displayed comprehensive lists of canceled titles. These lists are on our Collections Budget page and are accessible with a Boise State username and password.

Can I still get articles from a journal that has been canceled?

Yes. First, check the Journals A-Z list to see if we have coverage in aggregated databases like EBSCO or ProQuest. Many journals we subscribed to have post-cancellation perpetual access; that means that we own the digital backfiles of the journal from the time we started subscribing until the time we canceled. Many journals that are canceled in FY20 will have backfile access up to the end of 2019. If we don’t own the backfile, the article may be found through alternate access methods or requested via interlibrary loan.

How are collections decisions made?

Evaluation rubrics are developed for each journal collection. Factors considered are: cost; usage data; availability in other sources, including databases; currency of usage; and patron feedback.

Liaison library faculty work with department and college faculty for input on certain collection decisions that will inform the Collections Council who make the final decision.

Who makes the collections decisions?

Collection decisions are made by the Library’s Collections Council, which includes the Dean, Associate Dean, Heads of Cataloging, Instruction and Research Services, and Acquisitions and Collections.

Liaison library faculty work with department and college faculty for input on certain collection decisions that will inform the Collections Council.

The Library also welcomes any feedback about our collections and you can share your feedback with your department liaison or through our feedback form.

What if a journal I use was canceled?

First, check the Journals A-Z list on the Library’s webpage.  Journal articles we do not own may be requested through Interlibrary Loan. Often you can create a table of contents alert for the journal that will include the Find It button and make it easier to fill out the Interlibrary Loan form.

You can also contact your liaison librarian to discuss your research needs and help finding additional resources. Your librarian can also share data about the journal and potential alternate access options.

How are other academic libraries handling similar collection budget issues?

Albertsons Library is not alone in facing collections budget pressures. Many academic libraries are struggling to maintain large “big deal” journal package subscriptions. SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) created a database to track journal package cancellations. For example, the University of California system discontinued their Elsevier contract in 2019.

How can I be expected to meet the “grand challenges” or increase my research productivity when you’re taking away our resources?

This is an important question and one that we are concerned with as well. There’s no doubt that the university is moving towards a growing emphasis on research, particularly these sorts of transdisciplinary challenges. When we consider our responsibility to support faculty in meeting these kinds of research needs, there are several strategies we are using to make sure you have the resources you need:

  • We continue to provide critical services such as the one-on-one reference services and liaison consultations, as well as Interlibrary Loan. Even though we don’t own something doesn’t mean we can’t get it for you. We are also developing instruction tools to help you and your students learn how to use alternative access options when researching.
  • We continue to iterate and improve our multifaceted collections evaluation criteria. For example, when we look at usage information, we know that a lot of research is used by multiple disciplines and stakeholders. Therefore instead of considering the needs of only one discipline, we are working to balance the needs of all patrons. The expectation is that as we refine our collection, we will end up with the best resources that are truly useful to the campus.
  • We critically examine all large journal packages. On the surface, large collections of journals, like the Taylor & Francis package, seem like a good deal. However, there are strings attached. In most cases, signing large deals locks the library into multi-year agreements, tying up the collections budget for the period of the contract. Additionally, the packages come with built-in inflation; on average subscription prices increase 6% annually. What started out as a good deal can become a tremendous financial burden, even within a few years. By changing how we license content, we are gaining critically needed flexibility that will allow us to move with the university as research needs evolve.
  • Last fall we launched a task force to explore new ways to provide content. The scholarly communications landscape is evolving at a tremendous rate. We can now obtain not only purchased materials but a wide variety of open access content as well. Additionally, researchers have been asking us to obtain a greater variety of formats now used to disseminate scholarship. Our task force has been charged with investigating new access options and examining their viability. Based on their recommendations, the library’s Acquisitions and Collections unit will work to incorporate into the library’s collection these new resources.
  • We are your information advocate. We understand how frustrating it can be to not be able to quickly and easily get the resources you want. Let us know when you run into an information barrier and we will help you overcome it.

I'm proposing a new major/degree program/certificate. How do I check to see if the library has the resources I need for my curriculum proposal?

When you begin thinking about starting a new program, it is a good idea to contact your library liaison. Share with them your general proposal, expected focus of the curriculum, level of courses (undergraduate, masters, doctoral), if there are any common curriculum materials used for instruction (e.g.,. textbooks, videos, datasets, collected readings), and expected enrollment. Please also confirm if the program will have an online component.

Once you share this information, your liaison can begin working with you to determine if the library has adequate materials within the given subject area and in the format needed. If the library collection doesn’t have the needed resources, we will work with you to identify appropriate materials and then provide you information regarding cost, format, and access options. These details can then be used to correctly respond to the “Library Resources Verification” section of your Curriculum Change Request.

What if a journal article I’m using in my Canvas course is canceled?

Please contact your liaison librarian if you are using a library resource in your course. We will investigate options to get you the content you need.

The library is facing serious budget limitations for FY21. We’ve used endowment funds to pay for licensing individual streaming media titles for FY20. Some titles and collections we already own outright, for example the Alexander Street Press Video Database. Access to those collections will remain in place and won’t be disrupted.

Licensing new titles, or renewing expired licenses will be evaluated on a case by case basis. In some cases we may need to ask the requestor’s department to provide funding to license resources. We are evaluating our collections to make adjustments to subscriptions and free up funds for one time purchases, such as streaming media.

We want to provide as many services and resources to our faculty and students as possible and we will do our best to ensure access to the resources you need. Please continue to send us your materials requests. We will do our best to fill them.

If you have further questions, please contact the Head of Acquisitions and Collections, Mary Aagard ( 208-426-4025. She is eager to listen to the concerns of faculty and to get feedback as the library is dealing with these difficult financial considerations.

How can I help?

Work with your library liaison to review title lists and provide feedback about resources you use in your teaching and research.

Consider carefully where you publish your research and scholarly output. By publishing in Open Access journals you will help change the dynamics of publishing and its impact on library budgets. You can use your influence on editorial boards and as reviewers to identify sustainable and affordable ways to provide access to scholarly information. You can submit your work to Boise State’s institutional repository, ScholarWorks.

You can link directly to subscribed library content in Canvas or your course management system. The direct links generate usage data which is a major consideration when reviewing titles. If you need help, we created a guide for creating and using permalinks.

Why can’t staff vacancies be cut to so funding can be used to keep journals and buy books?

The inflationary cost of library materials grows by approximately $150,000 each year. If we were to eliminate vacancies and staff to cover the cost of inflation it would not take long before there were no staff and the costs of library materials would continue to increase. Let’s illustrate this with a simple example using FY20 salaries and staffing:

  • Funding for all library student assistants and temporary staff would provide enough funding to cover inflation for one year.
  • The average Classified Staff salary in the library is $37,800 per year. Each fiscal year we would need to cut 4 Classified Staff positions to cover the increasing costs.
  • Once the Classified Staff positions were gone, we would need to move on to the Professional Staff. The average Professional Staff salary in the library is $54,720/year. Each fiscal year we would need to eliminate 2.75 Professional Staff positions to cover the increasing costs.
  • Once the Professional Staff positions were gone, we would need to cut faculty lines. The average faculty salary in the library is $67,000/year. Each year to cover inflation, we would need to cut 2.25 faculty positions to cover increasing costs.
  • The end result?
    • In the first year, library hours would be drastically reduced because we rely on student assistants and temporary staff to keep the library open nights and weekends.
    • In just over 5 years, there would be no classified staff to keep the library open, purchase materials, work with vendors to provide access to e-books, check out materials, set up your ScholarWorks pages, or do Interlibrary Loan borrowing of materials we don’t own.
    • In just over 9 years, there would no longer be any professional staff to negotiate licensing of e-resources, catalog materials, make Open Access materials discoverable, set up databases so you can search them, provide access to full-text materials, and manage all of the large and small technical issues that crop up in a highly technical environment.
    • In 17 years, all of the library faculty positions would be eliminated as well.
    • You would have a library materials budget but no way to spend it or get access to the things you could buy.
    • The funding from staff cuts would simply maintain current subscriptions. There still wouldn’t be any flexibility to purchase new materials.

Of course this is a very simplified analysis that doesn’t include benefits, but you get the point.

Why is there such a large professional development fund? Couldn’t that money be used for library acquisitions instead?

Library faculty have research, publication and travel requirements just like other campus faculty, yet there are very few grants available to fund these activities. In addition, the field of library science is changing so rapidly that all library staff need to routinely participate in professional development activities so that we can keep up with changes in technology, licensing and resource formats, and offer new services such as data management, data visualization, identifying and providing access to Open Access and Open Educational Resources.

In addition, the funding we have available for professional development will only cover a small portion of the annual inflation cost for one year. For example, if the impact of inflation increases the cost of current subscriptions by $150,000 each year, the $50,000 we reserve for professional development and travel would only cover 1/3rd of that cost increase for one year.

Why can’t the library use Other Expenses (OE) to maintain journal subscriptions?

The bulk of the Library’s OE funds purchase Discovery Software; the software that runs our catalog links you from a record in the catalog to the full text of articles or books, that helps you find and borrow things in other libraries, provides access to materials in Special Collections and Archives, and runs the ScholarWorks repository. A small portion allows library units to do their work funding supplies and materials.

What is the Library doing to increase funding available for library subscriptions?

The library is increasing regular communication with donors and friends and is working with Advancement to increase library fundraising expertise and success. Progress has been slow, but improvements are happening

Why is the library remodeling the first floor if there is a shortage of funding for library materials? Where is the money coming from?

The 1st floor remodel project has been in the queue for funding for several years and is a direct result of feedback from students who feel the entrance is intimidating and unwelcoming, particularly to traditionally under-represented students. The project is a library priority that will contribute to student success and may help with recruitment. The funds are part of the deferred maintenance allocation (formerly “Part B funds”) from the legislature, earmarked specifically for this project.

How will reduced subscriptions impact university, college, and disciplinary accreditation?

The NWCCU Accreditation focuses on providing access to resources, not on what specific resources we have or how many. If you have concerns that reduced library journal subscriptions might impact your college/discipline accreditation, please contact your liaison librarian immediately so we can compare the accrediting agencies standards against our collections.