This one is a bit long. Sorry about that.
The first tactics session I attended was entitled “Binding Journals in Tight Times: Mind the Budget.” At my institution, we have reduced our microfilm purchase to a handful of titles that are in newspaper and broadsheet formats. Everything else is bound, except for JSTOR titles. With a 35% drop in the number of current subscriptions over the past five years, we have less to bind, so I’m not as worried about the costs of binding as I could be. However, I am interested in find out how other libraries have approached this problem.
The presenters (Lucy Duhon and Jeanne Langendorfer) come from northwest Ohio universities. Ohio was once the icon of well-funded library systems and higher education, but the recent economic troubles have resulted in numerous and painful cuts in funding. One advantage that Ohio libraries have is the shared depository and electronic resource system (OhioLINK).
One thing that the presenters noted is that it would be better to first determine what must be bound and working from that point rather than trying to decide what not to bind. Some cost-saving recommendations made by the presenters include:
- Cancelling print subscriptions that are covered online
- Cease binding titles available in JSTOR
- Cease binding gift subscriptions, trade publications, and popular titles
- Cease binding low-use titles (box or use Princeton files)
- Convert current print subscriptions to online (or print + online and cease binding the print)
- Select online over print for new subscriptions whenever possible
- Select online packages rather than individual titles if costs are lower per title
- Convert print reference material to online when available
Many of these suggestions have already been implemented in my library, but there are several that we aren’t doing that I plan to look into soon. All in all, it was a useful session.
The next tactics session I attended was on serials workflows (Jia Mi and Paula Sullenger). Jia Mi spoke first about workflows for electronic resource management, which I have been quite interested in. My department is set up for serials work and I have not yet figured out how to incorporate electronic resource work. Jia Mi broke down the electronic resource management models into three parts:
- Centralized: budgeting and acquisitions
- Collaborative: marketing and selection
- Distributed: statistics and housekeeping
The centralized processes are done by the electronic resources librarian. The collaborative processes are shared by the electronic resources librarian, the webmaster, the public services librarians, and the end users. The distributed processes are tasks assigned by the electronic resources librarian to student workers or graduate assistants. The point is that we should be concentrating more on making resources available in a timely manner than on maintaining the workflow status quo. Sometimes we’ll have to find our own unique ways of managing the changing serials environment using the staff we have (not the staff we wish we had).
I realized at this point in the presentation that I could do so much with use statistics if I didn’t have to spend so much time gathering them and massaging them into usable forms. So, I’ve asked the Dean if I could have one of our grad assistants for ten hours or so a month to gather use statistics for me. We’ll see if that happens.
Sullenger spoke about the decline in print serials subscriptions at her institution and how it affected the workflow of the serials department. In order to save money on staff time, one thing that they did was to stop claiming missing print issues if they are available online in a permanent archive. This makes a lot of sense to me, particularly if we are not going to bind the issues available online (either from the publisher or in an archive like JSTOR), and not binding will also save money. As a result of the decrease in work for the serials department, Sullenger anticipates that she will not need as many staff in 2006, so they could be reassigned to other areas of the library that have increased work loads.
At my library, the print serials work load has decreased dramatically in recent years because of the volume of subscription cuts due to budget issues. I plan to purchase more new online subscriptions than print, where I am able to. I think that in the long run, this is the new reality for libraries. My staff are nervous, though. I keep reassuring them that there are other departments that are overwhelmed with work and could use a few more people. Since we started the weeding projects, Cataloging can barely keep up with the withdrawals in addition to processing the new acquisitions. No, there will always be work in the library somewhere, it just may not be what they are used to doing.