In response to the recent economic downturn, the Bowdoin library is seeking to reduce its expenses on periodicals by $150,000 for the next fiscal year.
According to Librarian Sherrie Bergman and Associate Librarian for Public Services Judith Montgomery, the library plans to cancel only subscriptions for which the College has duplicate electronic and print versions, or those that have very low demand. This means that the impact of these reductions should be low for both faculty and students.
The library currently spends between $1.4 and $1.5 million of its $2 million materials budget on some 8,000 electronic and 1,300 print journals, with electronic access to articles (but not subscriptions) from about 16,000 more.
Around 40 percent of the library's materials budget currently comes from the endowment, so the planned reductions represent an effort to prepare for the coming impact of the economic recession over the next few years.
Because Bowdoin draws funds from the endowment based on its lagging average over the past three years, the College will not feel the full brunt of the downturn until 2010-2011.
"We're hoping that this will make the next several years easier," Montgomery said.
Montgomery added that the College has raised some money for the library in the Capital Campaign, which should offset some of the decline in the endowment.
The Orient did learn late Thursday that pending trustee approval, the library's materials budget for 2009-2010 would be increased, even while budgets in other departments are planned to be held flat. According to Bergman, the increase is to cover the costs of periodical subscriptions, which rise each year.
However, Bergman wrote in an e-mail that the increase would not change the journal review process, because the budget does not cover all anticipated price increases or include funds to support materials for new courses or faculty interests.
The library already has an established system for reviewing its periodicals; the collection went through a similar evaluation in 2006 and cut $130,000 in expenses.
Currently, library staff are consulting with faculty to see if there are any journals currently received in print and electronic format for which the electronic version alone would suffice. Bergman said that the staff is hoping hear back by the end of this month, or the beginning of May.
Before ending any subscriptions, the library will circulate a list of proposed cancellations to faculty to check.
In addition, if the library finds that there are periodicals that are only consulted occasionally, it may be cheaper to pay for access to individual articles, rather than for a yearlong subscription.
According to Bergman, Bowdoin has also entered into new collaborative agreements with other libraries to expedite deliveries of interlibrary loan, which would allow delivery of articles in 48 hours.
Such arrangements allow the library to "start thinking about what you need to own, or what you need access to," Bergman said.
In an unrelated move, the library is also planning to remove, or deaccession, about 50,000 journal volumes from its collection.
According to Bergman, Hawthorne-Longfellow Library is currently out of space, and the easiest way to make more room is to move print journals that are now available electronically.
"It is standard practice to deaccession those materials," Bergman said. She and Montgomery emphasized that the library would not be getting rid of any unique content, or journals that contain illustrations.