Collections update – June 2016

Posted on Monday, June 27, 2016

With the new fiscal year, it seems timely to provide an update on the Library Collections budget, following up on the information we provided last winter on our website.   Last year we cut 378 resources for a total of $1.2M from the collections.  We had informed the community at that time that it would likely be necessary to carry out another cancellation exercise in 2016-17 and this has proven to be the case. We are now able to provide you with details.

The Collections budget will be significantly reduced from last year.  The total reduction amounts to $1.63M or an 11.5% decrease in collections funding when compared to the 2015-16 collections budget. 

We plan to cut $1.3M from serials/databases (out of a total budget of $13.9M) and will have approximately $750K less for books and other one-time expenses than last year ($3.95M versus $4.7M).

Key factors leading to this situation:

  • A lack of indexation to protect against inflation (approximately 6% per year) on scholarly materials.  As explained in an earlier communiqué, the library has enjoyed an annual indexation of 3-10% for its Collections budget from 1997 to 2014. However in 2015-16 this approach was suspended and has not been reinstated.
  • The difficulties in developing a university strategy to mitigate the currency exchange problem – the Library spends more than half of its budget on materials originating from US publishers (i.e. not available from Canadian sources) and the Canadian dollar has been very weak against its US counterpart.  The exchange rate during the past year has varied from 1.21 to 1.45, with the average being 1.31, which has resulted in a substantial loss of purchasing power. 
  • In 2015-16, a one-time allocation of $500,000 was granted which allowed the Library to renew the Wiley journals package.
  • The imposition of the 2% cut across the board in the University in 2016-17, with this being the first time that the Library collections budget was not protected from such cuts. In the last round of budget cuts in 2009, the Library abolished 13 positions, but would be unable to maintain operations with any further staff reductions.  It was also determined that the Library’s share of the budget cuts ($539,213) could not be applied to our Operations budget (which was 0.05% of the total budget in 2016 compared with 10% five years ago, excluding salaries and collections). Therefore the full amount had to be applied to the Collections budget. 

The combined negative impact of the above decisions will have a major impact on Library collections.  In order to help us make these difficult decisions, we carried out a survey of faculty and graduate students this spring, and we are compiling the results. We thank everyone who participated in the survey; your input is very important. This will play a major role in guiding our decisions around what content will be cut, or not acquired, which we will be making before the end of summer.  Our next update is planned for July/August, once we have compiled the results of the survey and identified the cuts to be made.

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