The broad goals for the UM Libraries collection is to:
UM Libraries will strive to achieve these goals while focusing on two objectives:
As we do this, the library recognizes the need to accomplish these goals in the most efficient and financially responsible way possible.
The UM Libraries are committed to providing access to the resources needed for teaching, learning, and research. Historically, UM Libraries has strived to retain access to all currently subscribed resources, maintain a consistent book budget, and add new resources when possible.
While our collection budget has increased over time, it has not kept pace with publisher/vendor price increases. To counteract these increases, we have decreased the size of our collection, while at the same time relying on supplemental, annual one-time university funding to cover the gap caused by these increases. The challenges presented by constant increases combined with flat or slight budget increases necessitate a change our financial strategy for collections.
Strategy Moving Forward
Just-in-Time vs. Just-In-Case Purchasing Models
The library has increased our dependence on just-in-time models for providing access to collection resources needed by users. This includes:
The library recognizes the downside of this approach is that users will not always have immediate access to the material they need, which can be disruptive to the research, teaching, and learning experience.
Doing this, though, also allows the library to concentrate more of our spending on resources not easily discoverable and not readily available through interlibrary loan or other resource sharing options.
Moving More towards Broad Access to Materials
We have recently reduced our collection, and will continue to need to do so in order to maintain a sustainable budget.
We are offsetting these losses by investing in access to broad collections:
Expanding access, though, in each case has restrictions: databases and journals are limited only to those publishers with whom we have agreements, and e-book access is limited to those available through specific publishers or content aggregators.
Leveraging Large-Scale Journal Agreements Strategically
Long-term, the current business landscape dictates that we will need to continually scale down our collection, particularly journals. However, we will continue to sign large-scale, multi-year journal agreements when they provide strategic benefits. These are considered individually, and an initial multi-year term (or renewal of an existing license) does not guarantee future renewals.
Reasons we may sign an agreement include:
Working Collaboratively with Other Libraries
We continue to work with other libraries in Mississippi to provide access to Elsevier content. Starting in FY22, all IHL schools will have access to the same content. Our latest initiative is exploring e-book models and agreements that may be useful for IHL libraries.
We work with consortia like ASERL (Association of Southeastern Research Libraries) to increase purchasing power among member libraries (e.g., recent acquisition of Adam Matthew databases)
We also know this will only be successful with good communication from, and between, all stakeholders. We have created a guide to serve as the gateway for information and ongoing updates related to the library collection. In addition, every instructor, researcher, and student has a liaison (based on your department) who you should contact if the library is not meeting your specific needs or if you have questions about the collection for your area. The collection strategist, dean, and/or departmental liaisons are available if you want to discuss the library's collection and collection strategy. Interlibrary loan is available to gain access to books and journals.
We remain committed to providing every user access to the materials they need. Some resources may be prohibitively expensive (e.g., database-type resources), and even those we will incorporate into our planning and work towards the goal of adding them when feasible. In the meantime, we can work with publishers to potentially provide one-time access to content you need.
Annual Increases on Continuing Resources ("Inflation")
Creating a sustainable library collection is difficult, largely due to the predatory business model present in our scholarly communication ecosystem. Each year publishers, database providers, and others in the ecosystem apply 5-7% annual increases on their list prices. This model has been in place for decades, and these price increases surpass expected price increases due to normal inflation.
The library negotiates, packages, and uses other means to limit the increases applied to our resources. Still, we must annually budget for 2-3% increases on our collection expenses. This business model--applying increases every single year--is further compounded by the composition of our collection portfolio: ~90% of our collection expenses are continuing resources. This distribution is similar to most other libraries' allocations.
To help illustrate the impact this model has on our ability to provide collections, here is a current 5-year projection if the library were to not change (i.e., discontinue resources, not see any changes to increases applied to our resources) our holdings:
Note: These projections are based off most recent years' increases, which have been negotiated at lower rates
in part due to pandemic and may not persist at our next renewals
This is a systemic issue that extends beyond the University of Mississippi, and no university will be able to sustain their current collections without significant, continued increased investments; or, without university faculty and librarians across the world collaborating to change this model.
Our university administration has continued to support the library in most years with one-time funding to cover our gap. However, as evident from the above chart, the increases continually compound. And one-time funds, unfortunately, just shift the problem to a future date.
You can review the cancellations the library made in FY21, which reduced our expenses by ~$500,000 in order to match our collection expenditures to our budget. However, as also evident by the chart, that work is quickly erased after just a few years.