Collection development in times of diminishing budgets

I knew I was in trouble as soon as I hung up the phone. Diana had convinced me to speak at the UNYOC Chapter meeting in October on collection development in times of diminishing budgets. Oh sure, I have some things I do to deal with budget issues, but that couldn’t fill up 40 minutes. And most of them only work for academic medical libraries. So I’m asking the medical library community to send me the things you are now doing to deal with a diminished budget. I will put the best suggestions into my presentation, and make the presentation available for everyone. So consider this a joint cooperative publication, with me as the editor.

I suspect that many of us are doing the same things, but I will identify interesting techniques with your name, if you allow me. Please post your techniques, even if they seem obvious to you. Here’s what I’m doing (although some pre-date the current economic situation):

  • Join consortia (lowers pricing, saves on negotiation time.)
  • Partner with the main library (our annual share of the Springer ebook package is less than what we used to pay for print Springer books from our approval plan, and we get tons more.)
  • Substitute free “lite” versions for little used paid databases (AGELINE, AGRICOLA.)
  • Use those cancellation privileges in your big deal (every $100 helps. /sarcasm)
  • Go e-only whenever possible (although sometimes this is more costly, watch out.)
  • Cancel the approval plan.

Come on, show the world your brilliant idea. Let me know if I can credit your idea.


18 responses to “Collection development in times of diminishing budgets

  1. Laurie Thompson

    We have successfully asked vendors to drop or lower their increases for next year. We staved off a $3400 increase on an important database yesterday because the vendor was willing to eliminate their 5.5% increase. It doesn’t hurt to ask and it might very well help. The ICOLC statement is a useful tool .

  2. Leaves a Mark,

    One thing I did this spring is to not bind 2008 print titles if we bought online-only for 2009. Online subs include previous year access at the very least 99% of the time, so why spend the labor $, binding $, and staff time to bind those issues? With our 500 print titles going online-only next year, we will not bind the print 2009 issues and again save at least as much as we saved this year.

    Thanks for asking!
    Margie Garner
    OUHSC Bird Library, Oklahoma City

  3. Ramune Kubilius

    Dare I say it-

    Partner with / share costs with departments?
    (eg. on the very “big ticket” databases like UpToDate or Ingenuity, or on e-book purchases, not subscriptions necessarily)

    Cut back on current users for the products (databases) you still license with this model and that you don’t want to give up entirely.

  4. From another academic library, here are some strategies that I’ve used in past few months alone:
    1. Seek out alternative, lower cost options. There might be some loss of functionality and features, but spreading the pain around is better than total loss of access.

    2. Drop the number of concurrent user seats where possible and if the cost per use isn’t warranted. Again, turnaways may be better than no access.

    3. Look for cost neutral or savings swaps by moving to e-only access. Versions may not be equivalent, but focus on what’s really needed for your institution. Additional content/options may not be necessary.

    4. Question all quotes with standard annual increases. Include references to budget/economic crisis statements from ICOLC, MLA, ARL, etc.

    5. Carefully review, monitor, and challenge the varied tier price quotes for journals through your subscription agent WITH EACH RENEWAL CYCLE. I’m referring to those publishers that have their own defined tier categories. As these tend to get buried in annual subscription renewals, they may be overlooked.

    6. Negotiate with vendors on any high cost per use resource. Might they be willing to lower the rate rather than lose business altogether?

    7. Fund only new, “critical” journal requests. Communicate with clients about the budget situation & make sure requestors understand the different between required access vs. “nice to have.”

  5. I’ve had success this year approaching clinical departments that have interests in some subject-specific resources we license. I have 50% shared funding for these resources:
    Natural Standard database
    Access Surgery
    Cardiosource Plus
    Lippincott’s Nursing Skills & Procedures
    Anatomy & Physiology Revealed 2.0 software
    Sylvius 4 software

    When I can provide usage statistics and a proposal for the department to pay half the cost, I have had success in getting funds. It also helps to shock them first by telling them how much our UpToDate license is increasing, after which a few thousand dollars doesn’t seem like that much to them.

    Speaking of usage, I have started to cancel any online journal that cannot provide COUNTER compliant statistics. Any other resources that cannot provide good usage statistics are also considered for cancelation. If vendors cannot tell us what usage their products are receiving, then they don’t deserve our business. This ideas is related to my “negative usage” evaluation method, which is only a propoal at this point because it is a bit controversial. If we are unable to get good usage statistics, I propose that we work with the vendor to have the access to a specific journal or database cut off for a period of time, and then track messages from users who are denied access. To work with the least amount of inc0nvenience to our users, we should be able to provide an avenue of access that we can give them for the duration of the deliberate outage. If a resource is getting usage, we should hear about it; if not then the particular resource can go on a list of items to cut.

  6. Peggy Caruthers

    1-We have 4 libraries. I don’t duplicate any journals they have. I use newletters from professional organizations that are taught from at the college. These are free. I have asked faculty in the Allied Health programs to put their current journals after they have read them in the display rack at their location for students to read. Also I have let go all of my magazines for pleasure reading. Students usually don’t have time here to read them so I’m positive they won’t be missed.

    2-I accept gift books and swap with the other libraries for items that we both can use. I have just gotten 23 med-surg type books that way and they are all 2008-2009 ed. WOW!
    That’s about a big savings for me.

  7. Mary Pat Harnegie

    I just submitted an poster abstract to Midwest MLA on this subject. Can I email a copy of the abstract to you?

    The abstract does not cover all of what we do here to get worthy items into the print & AV collection.
    1. We regularly solicit our retiring & relocating staff for donations through the monthly staff newsletter…”they don’t have to take it w/them.”
    We will soon be sending a personal note to relocating/retiring staff prior to leaving of our willingness to receive their donations. This also applies to relocating departments who can’t/won’t be able to take their print collections w/ them. The donations from residents has augmented our review and certification prep material.

    2. Books sent to our Scientific Publications dept to be reviewed by the inhouse journal are donated to our library.

    3. Cleveland Clinic Guides to (various health issues) are donated by the publisher.

    4. To improve our return on requested materials authored by institutional staff, our Institute head is personally congratulating his fellow staff members and requesting a copy of the celebrated work for the library. He is hoping to have a “show & tell” at the quarterly professional staff meeting acknowledging some of the newest works authored by institutional colleagues.

    These suggestions are very specific to a print collection development. I hope they are of value.

  8. Here are some of the measures we have taken or are considering:

    1. Closely scrutinizing previously routine purchasing of new editions of texts.
    2. Reduce standing orders or lengthen the period between automatic ordering of annuals.
    3. Retreating to hard copy subscriptions for selected journals whose e-subscriptions cost substantially more than hard copy.
    4. Ask faculty or other liaisons to prioritize the importance of titles in their topical areas.
    5. Scrutinize duplication between hard copy texts and electronic packages containing the same texts.
    6. Drop high-cost databases in favor of free or cheaper alternatives.

  9. Hi Leaves a Mark

    While the comments you make at UNYOC will be brilliant as usual I am sure – I would dearly love for you include those of us in the hospital community.
    We are in fact being stressed even worse than the academics. We are facing loss or closure of libraries, loss of hours devoted to our library work, working in departments unrelated to our medical libraries.
    UNYOC has many of us in that situation. Please lets get some help for us as well.

  10. Kitty Wrigley

    Here are my stretchers: We are one hospital among 13 in a system. For budget whoppers (like Micromedex), I lobbied the system to purchase the database for all its members. Our share is greatly reduced, as in tens of thousands. Second, when cost effective, I am canceling print journals in favor of online. Third, I’m on the lookout constantly for new buying groups. For example, I’m in Illinois but use the Michigan Library Consortium to purchase Serials Solutions. Hey, this would be a GREAT resource to post on MLA website–list of library organizations that do group purchases. Until I invested in an A-Z service, I didn’t know what I owned. This service has paid for itself by enabling me to see journal overlaps.

  11. Christine Chastain-Warheit

    In our hospital library, we maintain a book ordering wish list and buy only when one of our vendors has a deep discount sale event 22-25% off. We try to buy online books if the book is popular – saves against loss. We review usage and circ stats to purchase online books and journals only in heavy use specialties. We monitor those stats for at least two years before buying a new journal. Once purchased, cost per use must be under $10.00 and preferably under $5.00 to be renewed. We participate in three different buying consortia to cut costs of online resources.

  12. Loralei McGee

    My facility’s Family Medicine Residency Program keeps a box for the Resource Center in their mail area. Any journals not wanted are put in the box and delivered to me by courier weekly. I use these donations to provide print versions of online only journals. This also provides 8 other journals for FREE. The issues are a week or two behind but they’re FREE. In turn, I request the publishers stop sending journals to residents who have graduated and provide their new address.

  13. Not exactly exciting ideas, but what we’ve done in our hospital library to help with our Coll Dev issues are as follows:

    1) Consortial agreements (don’t duplicate what’s in other libraries within state – with exception of high use items)

    2) Worked with State Library for some fantastic deals

    3) Negotiated new editions included at no extra charge within current year subscriptions for ebooks.

    4) Centralized all book & journal orders for the entire hospital – use online catalog system as an inventory tool
    (for books held in other departments, the call number is used to identify the hospital’s initials and then department name, ie KRMC Administration Dept.)
    My inspiration for continuing this service was from Beth Treaster, MSLIS. In 2002-2003, while a librarian at a hospital in Oklahoma, she documented that she saved her hospital $77,495 when she took on book buying for her hospital. The dollars were compared one fiscal period later. In my first month doing this, I was able to reduce several duplicate book orders; one department wanted to order 3 copies of a book which a department next door to them already owned 5 copies of. This still happens to this day; just this past Friday I was able to save a department $283 because they didn’t realize we already owned copies of the three books they wanted purchased.

    5) An unorthodox idea that has really worked for us (though it took several years for this to be fully effective) is to institute a policy that we do not replace lost or otherwise missing items from the library. Only the new editions would be purchased when they were eventually published. After the users realized the library policy was indeed held to, they started being proactive in finding library books left around in other areas of the hospital and bringing them back to the library — this resulted in a drastic decrease in book expenditures. This policy was originally instituted in 1999, and about 2001 is when it was noticed our number of missing & lost items dropped dramatically. And we do not charge overdue fines regardless of what the charge is.
    I caught a lot of flack from other librarian colleagues when I first instituted this new policy as a new librarian, but the numbers show the effectiveness.

    6) We are proactive in obtaining and tracking usage statistics for all of our books & journals, both online & print in addition to our databases. I created a spreadsheet that calculates our cost per usage for all of our library products. This is the first year I started this, but come next April, we’ll be scrutinizing this with a magnifying glass.

    I look forward to viewing your presentation, Mark. I’m sure there are many other ideas I haven’t tried – nothing like a bunch of resourceful librarians!

  14. Diana Cunningham

    I thought I’d better offer something, since I was lucky enough to get Mark to say yes…
    1. Move to e-only where possible
    2. Review every single license for the cancellation clause; exercise it, then get a better discount from the vendor as a result (risky, because we never expected it!)
    3. Complete surgery on binding (although we haven’t finished with the 2006 issues yet!
    4. Eliminate standing order print titles; younger reference librarians never use those print books anyway;
    5. Take advantage of membership in consortia, especially New York 3 Rs (Metro area for us)
    6. Capture cost/use whenever possible; can be shocking to library committees to discover how little or how much individuals use databases and/or titles
    7. Increase your revenue from less traditional services; for example, take up poster printing (especially on canvas for the art types or faculty who are sure their poster should be archived) and then use to supplement your budget

  15. Leaves a Mark, we are doing everything you mention plus the following:

    – Reduce the number of concurrent users for some databases and e-books (StatRef & Natural Medicine’s Comprehensive Database, Books@Ovid)
    – Doing a detailed “cost per downloaded article” for all our online journals. All journals where the average cost per downloaded article exceeds $18 will be considered for cancellation.
    – Cancelled all standing orders. We will purchase individual volumes from series, etc. upon request or if they are especially relevant to our collection.
    – Cancelled 50% of the print books, annuals, etc. purchased for the Reference Collection. Usage of that collection has decreased dramatically in recent years since most people use Google and the internet.
    – Began purchasing e-books through Rittenhouse’s R2 Digital Library. We like the flexibility of buying e-books as one-purchases instead of getting locked into subscription pricing models where we have to come up with the money to pay it every year.
    – Negotiated with other Medical Center departments to share the costs of certain resources (CLIPP & UpToDate).
    – Stopped binding soft-covered books and dissertations and theses. We deposit electronic copies of School of Medicine and School of Nursing dissertations and theses in the University’s institutional repository but we no longer add print copies to the library’s collection.
    – Send back renewal price quotes that are too high (over 5%) and ask for more favorable pricing. Cancel if the publisher will not reduce the price (Primal Pictures). In 2010 we will probably send back any renewal price quotes that are over 3%.
    – The directors of the three University of Rochester libraries cooperated on a letter that was sent to all the publishers and vendors we do business with. It reiterated many of the points made in the ICOLC statement and the NERL letter and requested that publishers and vendors freeze renewal prices for 2010. It’s too soon to tell how successful this effort will be.
    – Cut all student workers in one of our branch libraries. The library is now closed in the evenings except for select patrons who can swipe their ID cards to get in.
    – Increased the replacement cycle for public and staff computers.

  16. Nicole Dettmar

    The theme of the Washington Medical Librarians Association meeting this year was ‘Dealing With a Downturn‘ and we had a very engaging panel discussion about these topics. Notes from the panel are here. Please note this was held pre-swine flu!

  17. Notes from a non-academic, non-teaching regional medical center librarian:
    1. Purchase and update titles (print or electronic) in the high-volume specialty areas (we don’t need the latest edition of a tropical medicine text). 2. Get as many e-journals as you can afford – everyone wants instant acess to the full text of an article. 3. Unless you have proof of high usage, don’t keep buying newer editions of the “old tried and true” titles from outdated Brandon-Hill lists. 4. Ask sales reps for high volume sales titles which will give you an idea about demand. 5. Don’t get crazed about nursing texts in print – nurses rarely come to the library to read. Buy nursing e-titles and put them on the website so they can access them anytime. 6. Solicit opinions from specialists about the standard or “can’t be without” titles in their area, and find out if they prefer print or e-access to that title through the library. 7. Whenever possible, purchase e-journals and e-books through your library consortium or form a group and negotiate. We have access to far more than possible alone by working with our Library Council to negotiate deals with vendors. Also, we’ve had great success as a group of three libraries together buying R2 books with Rittenhouse. Even though we are small in volume, there is still power in numbers when it comes to negotiations.

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