Monday, March 12, 2007

Electronic Resources & Budget

Here's a LibQual+ comment we received over the weekend:

I appreciate having more electronic journals; however, I worry that book budgets are being cut to pay for them. It might be worth forming a committee of library admin, staff and users to try to come up with a better approach. There seems to be some redundancy in databases, as well as too much focus on basic reference databases containing novice information. This makes it difficult to give students expertise. Can the library complement these basic databases with more specialist databases?

Paying for our electronic resources is a tough issue. Over the last several years, the demand for electronic resources has increased, as has the cost of these materials. At the same time, the library's budget for all materials (print, online, and multimedia) has remained at the same level. We try to find a reasonable balance between building our print collection and providing access to electronic resources. I've talked with the Library Committee about this, and I am looking at ways we can change our budget allocation process to address these and related concerns better. So far, I haven't found any good solution -- other than requesting additional funds for library materials.

On the database question, most of the general reference databases (Academic Search Premier, InfoTrac OneFile, MasterFile Premier) come to us through the Alabama Virtual Library. The AVL is funded by the Alabama Legislature, and we do not have to pay for these databases. This frees up money that we can use to license more specialized databases such as LION and the MLA Bibliography. Without the AVL, there is no way we'd be able to afford to offer the variety of databases we have. We're always trying to make sure we have the databases our students and faculty need, and we welcome any suggestions for additions. These additions, however, will come at a cost -- which brings us back to the concern discussed above.

Thanks again to all who have taken the time to respond to LibQual+ and to give use their comments.

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