Strategic Planning for Library Collections
Three Year Scenario

Authored by Peter Lyman, University Librarian
October 1, 1996

Problem Statement

The financial support to protect the collections budget from inflation in the price of books and journals was withdrawn by the state in 1989, and no sustainable budget model has been identified which will protect collections purchasing power from grad ual erosion due to inflation.  Since 1989, the purchasing power of the collections budget of The Library has decreased by over 28%, the number of volumes purchased has decreased from 167,284 to 133,441, and the number of serials and journals has decr eased from 83,116 to 59,909.  In the early 1990's, Vice Chancellor Heilbron funded increases to the collections budget through decreases in library staff (the number of academic FTE dropped from 118 to 79, total staff from 435 to 352).  This str ategy is not feasible without closing branch services, which is not a practical option given the shortage of Library stack space in Doe and NRLF, even if it were acceptable to the faculty involved.  Moreover, the Library currently lacks expertise in 13 critical specialized bibliographic subject areas, weakening both collections and services in support of these academic programs.

Last Spring, the Chancellor allocated one million dollars in each of the next three years as transition money to support library collections until endowment income provides equivalent support, the Digital Library is more evolved, and new models can be developed.  At the same time, however, the previous annual supplement of $500,000 for collections from the Vice Chancellor was reduced to $375,000, and dedicated to special projects related to collections:  $250,000 (renewable) was focused on developing digital collections;  $125,000 was focused on improving the quality of interlibrary borrowing services.

As a consequence, the net budget supplement over 1995-1996 is $440,000 (after a $60,000 allocation by the Vice Chancellor to the Law Library), while inflation is projected to be $424,000 (8.8%).  In year two of the supplement, 1997-1998, the cumu lative shortfall from the 1995-1996 baseline period is projected to be $1.3 million (18.8%), and in the final third year of the supplement, 1998-1999, the cumulative shortfall is projected to be $2.2 million (29%).  In 1999-2000, when the supplement ends, the total shortfall nearly double, to $4 million.  These projections include revenue from the Library's endowments and other sources.  Although The Library has a $25 million target for collections endowments in the Campaign (and has raised $9.5 Million thus far), endowment income is not expected to reach $1 million until the year 2002;  even were the projected endowment income of 5% per year reach $1 million by 1999, that would be only half of the projected shortfall from the 1995-199 6 baseline.  In sum, the Chancellor's special funding allows this one year of stability, significant cuts to the collections in the second and third years, and a major reduction in 1999-2000, unless new sustainable sources of funding are found.

Finding New Resources

One option is to seek new and sustainable budget resources for the collections.  At Berkeley, the key budgetary decision points will occur during the regular budget review and allocation process in Spring Semester, to determine whether the campus can define a sustainable budget model that will reallocate from other programs to increase the base library budget to compensate for inflation, as the University's Voight-Susskind formula once did.  The Office of the President is not likely to refun d the formula, but rather has created The Library Planning and Action Initiative to conduct digital library prototype experiments on a system wide scale over the next 18 months, and to seek new funding to build a University of California Digital Library ( UCDL) in high inflation collections such as science, technology, medicine (S.T.M.) and Business.

Managing the Collections Budget in the Next Three Years

If no new budget resources are forthcoming, the Chancellor's 3-year supplement will provide substantial relief from inflation in the first year, but not in the second and third years.  This year, the $440,000 supplement will be allocated over the entire collections budget to supplement all aspects of collection development.  Without this important supplement, 5000 fewer monographs would be purchased and 2000 serials would have to be canceled this year. Even so, net inflation is projected to result in a small reduction in the buying power of all funds, which will require small cuts.  Without additional funding, The Library must implement a 2-year serials cancellation project in Spring 1997, in order to cover the shortfall for 1998 and 1 999.  Criteria for setting targets have not yet been determined, but must address high inflation rates in S.T.M. journals and high inflation in the price of serials and monographs from the developing world.

1. Performance Measures

Historically the Library has collected comprehensively and in depth, without undue concern for unequal levels of use or cost.  Given the projected reductions in the buying power of the collection due to inflation, collection choices must narrow, becoming more responsive to immediate needs and use patterns.  To provide objective data for more efficient decisions, The Library has sought and been awarded a $25,000 grant from the Council on Library Resources to develop a performance measures mod el.  Performance measures will define statistically valid methods by which usage, faculty needs and other measures of the quality of our services can be analyzed.  As immediate first steps, journal use studies have begun in all library branches, and the automated circulation system is providing use and fund accounting data on the monograph collection.  Longer term solutions will require continuing dialogues with the faculty to define the information needs of Berkeley's academic programs mor e carefully, and building regular, objective feedback mechanisms into the budget model.  The Library will seek foundation grant support for this project.

2. Resource Sharing

Consortial Agreements.  The Library will maintain onsite collections of high-use material to support academic programs and also collections of primary or unique materials such as those housed in the Bancroft.  But access to low use ma terial can often by provided through cooperative acquisition agreements with other libraries.  The UC/Stanford consortium is the major partnership with many cooperative acquisitions and delivery projects, for instance BioShare and MiniSCAP.  Th e Center for Research Libraries (CRL) collects low-use foreign language material, notably low-use journals, newspapers, and science and technology publications in foreign languages.  CRL is the silent partner in most area study consortial agreements and CRL records are loaded into the Melvyl catalog.  The ARL demonstration resource-sharing pilot projects are focused on resource sharing to support the study of Latin America, Germany, and Japan.  Obviously, Berkeley's leverage in exchange agr eements with other major research libraries has been based upon the historic strength of our own collections.

Document Delivery.  An important way to compensate for potentially increased demand for materials not held at UC Berkeley is to develop better document delivery services.  A key component of this "access strategy" will be to develop b oth consortial and commercial sources for these materials.  The Library has begun a planning process to identify which research library partners and commercial document suppliers can provide the most cost effective and timely delivery of information.   This program will focus on providing information in both print and electronic form;  the $125,000 allocation from the Vice Chancellor will be used to implement courier services, pay commercial information providers, develop the necessary softw are and purchase equipment (e.g., scanners and PC's.)

3. Digital Library Initiatives

A $250,000 renewable budget supplement from the Vice-Chancellor will be used to fund digital library experiments to explore whether and how digital collections and networked access to information might improve library collection services in some field s.  Today, digital collections are not comprehensive in any field, pricing models and licenses are still developing, and digital business models are not clear to either publishers or libraries.  Although these problems are now being addressed by publishers, for the three year planning horizon digital collections are likely to be more expensive than print.  The two licensing models currently under consideration nationally are subscriptions, which would provide campus wide access to digital v ersions of print journals, and document delivery, which would purchase articles on demand for library users.  In this transitional period there are no obvious safe strategies, but The Library will define a few critical path experiments to prepare to take advantage of more cost effective solutions as they appear.  In the Humanities these experiments will be focused on full text collections in poetry and literature, in the Social Sciences they will focus on managing quantitative census data, and i n the Sciences they will be focused on electronic journals.

The Library's investment in digital reference materials, such as Abstracting and Indexing databases, has increased the use of print collections, and required substantial unfunded investment in a technology infrastructure.  If electronic journals become cost effective substitutes for print collections, for example through the funding of UCDL, The Library will still be faced with substantial investment in workstations, networks and user interface design.

Authored by Peter Lyman, University Librarian
October 1, 1996

Click here to see charts on:
1996-97 Operating Budget by Category/Unit
Collections Expenditures 1995-96 to 1996-97
Allocation of Resources 1995-96
Collections Allocations vs. Declining Purchasing Power
FTE Staffing History for The Library
Quantities of Materials Acquired
Key Trend Statistics for The Library 1986-2000

If you have questions regarding the budget please email: Mike Rancer, Director of Financial Planning and Administration


Copyright © 1996 by the Library, University of California, Berkeley. All rights reserved.
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