Alkek Library’s shelves may have fewer new additions in the coming years.
The library houses more than 1.4 million printed books and 300 databases. Joan Heath, assistant vice president of the university library, said each department has been notified some print subscriptions may be cancelled. Print subscriptions in question are those available in online databases.
“We have indicated it is our intention to drop the print (version) as long as there is adequate access online,” Heath said.
The online access depends on the insurance policy with each database and its publisher. Heath said most databases will allow permanent subscriptions for online publications and journals.
“As electronic journals were just starting out you could start getting a journal online, but as soon as you stopped subscribing, it was all gone,” Heath said. “Whereas in the print world you got a magazine and you had it in print, even if you stopped subscribing or the publisher folded.”
She said the library now has access to the databases for an extended period of time.
“Now there are services that allow the library to — even if we cancel our subscription or the publisher discontinued publishing — retain online access to those years that we subscribed,” Heath said.
The library uses acquisition funds comprised of library fees and higher education assistance funds. Each department within the university is given a yearly library budget to spend on databases, books and journals. Heath said the databases range in costs from $1,000 to $99,000 per subscription each year, meaning the funds have to be watched closely.
“The costs of databases tend to be substantial, and every year there is a subscription cost and then there is inflation so there tends to be a bit of an increase each year,” Heath said. “So over time, if you are subscribing to 300 databases, it can add up to be significant, and that leads to the issue of the library’s ability to keep up.”
Heath said there are different types of funds to cover the databases.
Paivi Rentz, administrative librarian, said there is a team charged with selecting and overseeing the databases.
“We get together several times a year to look at what has been requested, what is new out there and it is kind of what would be most beneficial to everyone,” Rentz said.
Rentz said the introduction of better products and unused sites can lead to the termination of a database.
Departments will fund databases within their own budgets in some cases, in order to gain access to the online source in the library’s collection. However, sometimes the cost of a database can be more than one department can pay.
“If there is a department who would like to get access to a database and they can’t afford it on their own, we go to other departments to try and raise the money,” Rentz said.
Rentz said the library will not fund databases for specific departments if it does not fall within their budget.
“If the database is very subject specific and we don’t feel it is a good use for the library’s money, we try to find the departments that might be able to pay for it,” Rentz said.
J. F. De la Teja, chair of the history department, said they do not spend their library budget on databases.
“Because of the nature of history, we work mostly with books,” De la Teja said. “Since history seems to be a broad and national, we normally cannot find a database that fits those guidelines, because it would probably only be helpful to a few people within the department.”
Roseann Mandziuk, professor in the department of communication studies, said their division primarily uses EBSCO, which is within the library budget.
“There are times, however, when we might go outside the databases to consult the same in humanities, and that is going to interest faculty members and students,” Mandziuk said.
Heath said the number of databases will continue growing.
“This has been a developing part of the literature for quite a while now, and we are fortunate in recent years to have the funds to add to the database collection,” she said.