23:3 (2008:09) 23rd Conference (2008): Tactics Session: The Sting of Releasing Print Journals

September 2, 2008 at 3:21 pm | Posted in Tactics Sessions | Leave a comment


The Sting of Releasing Print Journals: Surviving the Transition to an Online Environment
Michael Arthur, University of Central Florida; Ellen Safley and Debbie Montgomery, University of Texas at Dallas; and Carol Ann Borchert, University of South Florida
Reported by Karen Buntin

In this session, four presenters from three institutions discussed their strategies for converting print titles to online. Budget cuts were a driving factor in most cases. Common themes included: extremely low usage of print titles; restrictions on cutting electronic titles acquired through big deals and consortial agreements; and reliance upon aggregated content even when it is not viewed as stable. Additionally, these institutions met budget shortfalls in other similar ways, such as hiring freezes, cutting titles in other formats, and halting binding services.

When the University of Central Florida recently faced a $400,000 budget deficit, the staff considered all areas for cuts. They did not target print titles as a matter of philosophy, but as a last resort. Had they cut electronic products entangled in consortial agreements, pricing for other Florida institutions would have been affected. Cutting 500 print titles only saved $90,000, however. Further savings were found by a hiring freeze—currently, 20 out of 120 positions are vacant. Facing more budget cuts, they will target databases, and usage statistics will inform those decisions.

Similarly, at the University of South Florida, budget deficits led to cuts in a variety of areas. While e-journals were protected, most microfilm subscriptions were cancelled, binding of periodicals was halted indefinitely, and the serials staff shrank.  In converting titles from print to online, several criteria were considered, including perpetual access, system-wide access including remote users, IP authentication, and equivalence of content to print. Faculty input was also solicited through a survey of their use of the print journals collection.

At the University of Texas at Dallas, the strategic plan was to go as electronic as possible, employing criteria such as the quality of online graphics, well-transposed print, and the availability of an archive. Electronic usage is monitored through the collection of usage statistics; to monitor print usage, shelvers scan items when they clear a floor, and this information is uploaded into the ILS. Facing budget cuts, they used this data to consider underused databases, underperforming print standing orders, and print periodicals. With further cuts, they cancelled the print approval plan for monographs; leisure reading and audio book collections; more print standing orders; and underperforming print journals. While the budget was restored for 2009, they are reluctant to add new titles, using ILL and course reserves information to help determine new purchases.

Follow-up questions and answers addressed the difficulty of adding large numbers of individual electronic titles because of the complexity of contract negotiations; the good value for the money of big deals; the lack of a state school to act as a final archive; the difficulty of cooperative collection development since state-wide consortia generally buy the same things; and differing philosophies when considering print and microform subscriptions for cuts.


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