As budget cuts loom, the Binghamton University Libraries have announced a final list of titles, including online databases and journals, set to be canceled.
At the end of last semester, University Libraries identified $450,000 in print periodicals and electronic resources to potentially cancel after being informed it would face a 4 percent budget reduction for the upcoming year. According to the final list, which was published online on Nov. 2, the departments of romance languages, anthropology, political science, music and biology face the most severe cancellations.
According to Curtis Kendrick, dean of University Libraries, the list was determined following review by University librarians and feedback from the campus community.
“The list of items identified for cancellation includes titles with a high cost per use, specifically, a cost per use over $75,” Kendrick wrote. “Beyond that, our subject librarians carefully reviewed collections to identify titles to cancel that would be least disruptive to our ability to support research, teaching and learning. These lists were made available to the campus community, and based on input we received, some modifications were made before establishing the final list for cancellation.”
Jill Dixon, the associate University librarian for public services and collections, wrote in an email that University librarians looked to avoid getting rid of items needed to support academic departments.
“Our subject librarians carefully reviewed collections to identify collection resources to cancel that would be least disruptive to our ability to support research, scholarship, teaching and learning,” Dixon wrote. “The cancellation list was posted on our website and distributed to academic departments for review and comment. Based on feedback, some titles were retained by substituting other titles for cancellation.”
Following review and several open discussions, some titles and subscriptions initially scheduled to be canceled were removed from the list. The journals requested by the anthropology department were retained, as well as journals for various other departments, including art history, economics and sociology. Additionally, all of the mathematics journals originally slated for cancellation are being retained. The final list indicates that the mathematics department is only facing one cancellation.
Kellam Throgmorton, a fifth-year graduate student studying anthropology, wrote in an email that he felt the libraries considered the current needs of students and faculty during the process of finalizing the list. Nevertheless, the cuts could impact the University’s future growth in certain research areas.
“Some of the journals slated for removal probably do not match the current needs or research foci of the anthropology graduate students,” Throgmorton wrote. “For example, we do not have as many people working in the Middle East as we may once have — though with recent faculty additions, I imagine that could change.”
Throgmorton wrote that faculty did ask for certain journals to be retained, as they are important to research and would be difficult to access otherwise.
“As I understand it, the faculty have asked them not to eliminate several of the journals that are useful to the department,” Throgmorton wrote. “If they are eliminated, what we will lose is the ability to easily peruse these journals. This makes it harder to conduct early stage literature reviews and also makes it more difficult to stay up-to-date with current research in a particular region or on a particular topic. Yes, we can request scans of articles from other institutions, but that is not an ideal situation.”
But the impacts of the budget cuts might expand beyond books. According to Dixon, University Libraries will be holding off on filling vacancies this budget year.
“Collections and salaries make up the vast majority of our budget,” Dixon wrote. “The cancellations of collection resources made up the primary budget savings. Other staff would need to temporarily handle additional work. All of the libraries would be affected.”
It’s unclear whether the budget for University Libraries will continue to decrease in future years, but if it does, it could have a major impact on the ability of students and faculty to conduct meaningful research, according to Alexander Velez, a fifth-year graduate student studying anthropology.
“For graduate students, canceling journal access through the library has the obvious drawback of limiting our access to citable sources, which affects our ability to write essays for class and for professional publication without the use of illegal methods such as torrenting,” Velez wrote in an email. “Journal access is also relevant for our professional development as it allows us to keep up to date on what research is currently out there.”
The list of cancellations can be viewed on the University Libraries website.