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Responding to cost and budget challenges at Albertsons Library

The Albertsons Library at Boise State University is committed to providing faculty and students the broadest access possible to academic and research materials, and to supporting the campus community in finding and accessing all they need to support their work. However, changes are coming to how the library operates, which may impact some faculty research or how faculty utilize journal articles for classes.

As Boise State has grown rapidly in the size and scope of its academic and research missions, the rising cost of library subscription prices have vastly outpaced what the university has been able to budget for acquisitions and subscriptions. This, combined with current budget pressures, are forcing the library to adapt its approach for its journal subscriptions, and for acquiring new materials. Library leaders are focusing spending on the most active subscriptions and on purchasing individual articles and data sets on demand. Some materials may be acquired through inter-library loan and others through short-term loans.

Library staff are committed to working with faculty, staff and students to locate and access needed materials. Certain limited-use items – such as streaming videos, ebooks or databases – may be harder to procure but academic liaisons are assigned to each area to help find potential alternatives if needed.

In particular, faculty who have journal articles earmarked for class readings and discussions this semester may find their access to such articles limited. Faculty are encouraged to review their syllabi and alert librarians as soon as possible if their access to articles is disrupted.

“Library Faculty are researchers, too – we understand how difficult this is and are working hard to mitigate the impact on faculty and research,” said Tracy Bicknell-Holmes, dean of Albertsons Library. “Please ask the questions you have and share your thoughts. We want to be as transparent as possible in the process of striving for sustainability in our budget.”

To ensure that faculty have the space and voice to express their needs during these necessary changes, Albertsons Library has convened a faculty senate ad hoc committee, as well as a collections task force. These groups will provide valuable feedback and guidance to library staff as they work to ensure faculty and students are as marginally affected as possible to these changes.

With questions concerning the collections task force, faculty and staff are encouraged to reach out to:

Tracy Bicknell-Holmes,, (208) 426-1234,

Mary Aagard,, (208) 426-4025

Faculty may also direct questions about the faculty senate ad hoc committee to Amy Vecchione: (208) 426-1625.

Since 2010, the annual cost of library subscriptions has risen by an average of six percent each year – driven in part by pricing models that increase as the university grows or rises through the Carnegie classifications, and by a consolidated publishing industry that has driven costs so high that some of the largest public institutions in the country are terminating major subscriptions. Across the country, these rising costs have hampered both university subscriptions and more traditional one-time acquisitions.
The library’s academic liaisons, who are assigned to individual areas across campus, are available to help answer department and faculty questions about specific academic and research journals, or the library’s process and timeline for these changes.

The changes also offer Albertsons Library a good opportunity to grow and expand in innovative new directions.

“As we look for more sustainable ways to manage the resources we have we are looking outside the traditional concept of purchasing materials,” Bicknell-Holmes said. “What tools can we acquire that made it easier to discover and use open access materials? Could we extend our reach and response time in borrowing the materials faculty need by joining a wider library consortia? Can we reduce expenses by leasing content or providing read only access with pay to purchase if the user needs to download or print a copy? How do we prioritize faculty vacancies to increase our skills in growing areas such as OER, data management, data visualization? The process may be a bit painful, but our future will be bright.”

Bicknell-Holmes added that in the coming weeks, additional resources and library guides will be developed to help researchers find alternative resources.