The University Library

It was the aspiration of the founders of the University of California that the Library be included among the few truly great research libraries in the world, with broad and deep collections capable of serving as a record of human knowledge and supporting scholarship across many fields. As a consequence, Berkeley's University Library is a unique public intellectual resource for California and the West. The Library not only supports Berkeley's academic programs, but its collections and services are closely linked to those at Stanford and the eight other campuses of the University, constituting a research infrastructure for higher education in California. In addition, the Library serves the research needs of students and faculty in the California State University and the Community Colleges. It serves not only higher education, but the economy of the state; the intensive public use of the Bioscience, Business, Engineering, Public Health, and Environmental Design Libraries reflect the focal strengths of the regional economy --- biotechnology, computing, health, finance and the environment. The University Library also is a leader in research and development to develop technologies and programs for Preservation, Conservation, and the Digital Library, largely supported by external grants and gifts.

Today the Library is no longer funded at a level adequate to maintain its collections at the historic level of excellence, and faces a period of turbulent change in the history of the University without a predictable funding base. Although manifest as a funding crisis for the library, the crisis ultimately reflects structural changes in scholarly communication. For many faculty the crisis of the Library symbolizes uncertainty about the priorities of the University itself. Should Berkeley continue to aspire to develop and maintain an internationally respected research library, or should it build a more utilitarian system, supporting the specific, present-day needs of faculty? A tacit shift in mission resulting from the decline in funding has engendered conflict on the campus, as various faculties each attempt to defend their own collections and specialized services.

A. Library Collections. Twenty years ago, when the President's office used a need-based formula to distribute funds directly to The Library (using as factors the number of academic programs, student enrollment, and inflation-driven price increases for scholarly materials), Berkeley's Library stood at the top of national rankings. When this formula funding ended in 1989 the buying power of the collections budget began deflating by 12% annually. Although Berkeley's Library is one of the largest in the nation, the collections support 121 academic programs, thus are broad but often not deep. Since 1986 Berkeley has added 30 doctoral programs without proportionate increases in collections budgets, while peer institutions have cut programs and increased collection budgets, increasing the quality of both programs and libraries. While Berkeley has been far more successful than other UC campuses in finding temporary funds to augment the base collections budget to make up for the lack of state funds, in the absence of additional funds collections will be cut 15% this Summer, about 12% the year after, and 26% the year after, as the non-recurring funding comes to an end. Cumulatively these cuts will reduce acquisitions by half in the next three years. To compensate fully for inflation the budget would have to be augmented by about 12% a year recurring, and again every year; this is almost $1 million the first year, compounded thereafter. Only Harvard has fully funded inflation; other Universities in the peer group are augmenting collections by 7-11% a year. To manage the crisis, the Library recommends the following three initiatives:

1. Develop a funding strategy for collections. The conflict between each faculty's aspiration for a world-class research library serving their discipline, and the reality of inadequate funding to do so for all faculties, makes rational decision-making difficult. The campus needs to decide what kind of library it is willing to fund: a research library with deep collections in every field in which it offers graduate programs; a research library with selective excellence in areas of high academic priority; or a library with study-level collections which relies on other institutions for materials not held. Whichever goal is chosen, the Library cannot plan and implement any collections strategy with the present year to year ad hoc funding methodology; a three-year budget agreement, accompanied by some indication of priorities for support of various disciplines and programs, would help to stabilize faculty expectations and library morale.

2. The Library Planning and Action Initiative (LPAI). Berkeley's Chancellor will have a decisive voice in the outcome of the LPAI, a Task Force established by President Atkinson to explore University wide solutions to the problem of escalating costs of scholarly publications. The LPAI task force has proposed the following policies for consideration:

Assuming funding to support this initiative becomes available, within the next two years Berkeley must decide whether to replace 3,000-5,000 print journals in the sciences and engineering with online journals. Unless the Library cuts the print versions, digital journals will not cost less. The delivery of digital collections in this manner would require increased campus budget support for the network and computing infrastructure which will provide access to it.

3. The Capital Campaign. The Library's top priority for the campaign is to build endowments for collections. The Chancellor's support is essential if this effort is to succeed. Collection endowments are a comparative advantage of research libraries at private Universities. National comparisons show that collection budgets at the leading private Universities with which Berkeley competes for faculty, students and grants (i.e., Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Chicago and Columbia) are growing robustly, at the same time that Berkeley's budget is flat. The campaign goal is $25 million for collection endowments, of which $11 million has now been raised; to compete with the peers, the goal should have been at least $60 million. Most urgently, by the end of June 1998 the Library must raise $1.3 million to complete its $4 million National Endowment for the Humanities Challenge grant to support collections in the Humanities.

B. Library Operations. Libraries on the Berkeley campus include those reporting to the University Librarian, including 18 branches and the Northern Regional Library Facility for remote storage; and 8 affiliated libraries which report to Deans, Directors, or department chairs and are funded locally (but for the Affiliated Ethnic Studies and Law Libraries which receive state funds). Since 1989 University Library budget cuts alone have reduced the number of Librarians by a third, increasing the ratio of faculty to librarians from 8:1 to 14:1. Total staff have declined by 20%, but Library service programs have not declined proportionately.

The Operations budget must support not only salaries, but capital needs such as the development of a technology infrastructure for the digital library, supplies, and seismic and physical plant renovations not covered by campus maintenance or construction project budgets. The need to provide adequate capital budgets is strategic, as both traditional services and development of the technical infrastructure to deliver digital library information and services depend on them. Currently, 85% of the operations budget is expended on personnel, a significantly larger percentage than is typically allocated to salaries by peer institutions. Salary expenses cannot be easily reduced, as faculty groups defend the Library's extensive array of service points. Vice Chancellor Christ's Blue Ribbon Committee is a process for addressing these issues, but ultimately the Chancellor will be faced with finding funding for the strategies recommended.

1. Bridge Funding to Rebuild Specialists. If the campus wants traditional library services (i.e., each academic program would be supported by a librarian with specialist disciplinary training, providing reference consulting on demand in local branch libraries) it must provide an operations budget which is adequate to support them. The sudden early retirement of librarians has left the Library without key specialists to support important academic programs; bridge funding can ameliorate the problem of service gaps by accelerating the process of rebuilding expertise, buying time for the Library to seek efficiencies to pay for them.

2. Capital Budgets for Consolidation. If the campus chooses to consolidate branches and affiliated libraries into large efficient clusters, as UCLA plans to do, it must be prepared to provide substantial capital investment for appropriate Library buildings. Branch libraries are highly valued as places by faculty and students; perhaps Deans wanting this added service value could be asked to provide supplementary financial support for it.

3. Bridge Funding for New Service Models. Berkeley should develop new service models which take advantage of new technology, initially focused in areas with a high probability of success, such as Undergraduate Education. Berkeley has not followed the pattern of other campuses in making the Library a center for instructional technology and research computing in the Humanities and Social Sciences. The Moffitt Undergraduate Library offers significant resources for creating such a focus for innovation: it is in the center of campus; it contains a leading multimedia collection and program; it contains technology rich instructional classrooms; it is the home of the Teaching Library, which teaches thousands of students how to use the Library's print and digital collections in their coursework. A new service model for support of multimedia instruction would not initially replace any traditional services, but could develop and test service models which could make all library operations more cost effective, with particular relevance to the sciences, engineering and business should the LPAI initiative be funded.

C. Exploring Alternatives. Recent Library budgets have included the following initiatives to test new strategies for providing cost effective and high quality services:

1. Performance measures. ARL library rankings reflect budget inputs. How can the impact of the library on the quality of research, teaching and learning be measured? Mellon and CLR have provided grants to fund a pilot project on performance measures for library quality.

2. Electronic publishing. The Library can now fulfill its service mission by providing online access to some collections. For example, NEH has funded digitizing 26,000 images from the Bancroft Library for publication on the Web to support teaching California History in K12.

3. The Teaching Library. How can Library users be taught to use complex print and digital collections more effectively and with less direct service support? The Teaching Library's goal is to teach all entering students how to use Library collections, and to provide support for faculty developing online information resources for instruction and research.

4. Digital Collections and Infrastructure. The digital library includes over 400 public workstations, 300 databases, and nearly one hundred online journals. The Library technical infrastructure is self funded; the lack of recurring funds for technical infrastructure is a major structural weakness in the budget.

5. Institutional cooperation. Recognizing that Berkeley cannot acquire everything needed by our academic programs, partnerships with other campuses are strategic: treating Stanford and Berkeley collections as continuous; understanding all UC collections as one; making special consortial agreements on a discipline by discipline basis based on complementary strengths (i.e., inviting Texas to join the Berkeley-Stanford consortium for Latin American collections).

- Peter Lyman
University Librarian


Copyright (C) 1997 by the Library, University of California, Berkeley. All rights reserved.
Authored by: Peter Lyman
Document maintained by: A. Moen
Last update 7/10/97. Server manager: