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Strategies for Controlling Library Materials Costs



  1. Review standing orders for titles that can be cancelled. (In library lingo, “standing orders” refers to orders placed with a vendor or publisher for automatic shipment of books published in series. These may be published annually or on some other schedule.) Many of the most expensive standing orders are for reference materials such as specialized directories, annual statistical compilations, encyclopedias and bibliographies. We have already started this review and have identified $12,000-14,000 in annual savings for titles costing more than $200/year. Consulting with faculty on some titles. Next step review the lower cost standing orders.
  2. Faculty book requests: ask for faculty help in prioritizing. Ask if the title will directly support instruction. If not, ask if having access to a copy through Prospector is sufficient. Librarians will also check Prospector before ordering monographs for disciplines where faculty are less involved. The Alliance is working on a plan to coordinate monograph purchases, with a goal of fewer copies, more titles. Next steps: revise order priority designations. Revise order procedures to include checking Prospector.
  3. Consider eBook packages as these become available. We recently joined an Alliance purchase of Springer eBooks. We obtained the entire catalog of Springer publications for 2008 and 2009 at a cost under $3.00 title, with cataloging records. Intention is to evaluate student/faculty response to this format. Next step: Alliance Shared Collection Development Committee is soliciting information from vendors. We may be able to experiment with customer driven purchases of eBooks in the future.
  4. Negotiate better discounts with book vendors by consolidating ordering and offering them higher volume. Estimated savings of $10,000-12,000. We have already switched to a single vendor for most book orders to achieve higher discount.
  5. Reduce the number of books selected for the current books section, focusing more on academic or general interest titles that will be kept for the collection, and restricting orders for genres that will not be retained. Reduce expenditure $4,000.


  1. Implement a “one format” policy for journals: The library will no longer pay for periodical subscriptions in duplicate formats. The electronic version is the preferred format when a) current issues are available through a reliable electronic source, and b) back issues are preserved and accessible to CC in electronic format according to archival preservation standards*. Exceptions may be made for compelling content reasons: i.e. print quality in the case of heavily illustrated periodicals; color illustrations; or advertising. (*Examples of archival electronic journal services include JSTOR, Portico and Project Muse.)
    Savings in subscriptions costs in first year, and eventually in binding costs, staff costs, and space. Next steps: Cancellation lists for duplicate print subscriptions need to be complete by mid summer. Liaison librarians will be contacting departments with more information in April. Estimated subscription savings $30,000 – 34,000.
  2. Conduct a review of all journal subscriptions, including print and electronic formats. Focus on links to curriculum. Probably not until next year, after we know what the real yields are on efforts above.
  3. No new subscriptions until review is complete. Depending on real savings, we may have some funds to allocate to new subscriptions. If not, adopt a policy that we have to cancel something to add something. We may also have to move to a pay-per- view model for some very expensive titles.
  4. Review microform subscriptions. This review was completed fall ’08 to eliminate duplication with electronic formats, with estimated savings of $10,000. (Already taken from base)


  1. Conduct a review of all database subscriptions. Look at overlap in coverage, use statistics, and cost factors. Net cancelled already this year $22,000 (already taken from base.) Next steps: most of this review will occur next academic year, but liaison librarians will contact departments as renewals come up for low use/high cost databases. The Alliance will try to negotiate some group discounts. Estimated cancellations next year $26,000 – 28,000.
  2. No new database subscriptions until review completed. New may be considered if the review yields sufficient funds. Otherwise database subscriptions must be funded by new money from operating budget (unlikely for three years), Dean’s office, or departmental funds.

Video formats

  1. Substitute Netflix loans for purchase when appropriate. Consult with faculty on whether a title should be added to permanent collection and advise them of cost for expensive items. Next step: We have just started experimenting with Netflix and will see how this works.


  1. Suspend binding for most titles this year, while the review of journal subscriptions is underway and the “one format” policy is implemented. When binding is resumed, streamline procedures and redistribute work to existing staff positions. Estimated savings $8,000-10,000 in binding costs. $10,000 in annual staff costs.

Total estimated savings in base expenditures (from endowed and operating materials funds.)

Books: $26,000-28,000
Journals: $30,000-34,000
Databases: $26,000-28,000
Binding: $8,000-10,000
Total: $90,000-100,000

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