EBSCO conducted a survey in February to assess the impact of current economic conditions on libraries. Many respondents reported that their libraries have been impaired by budget pressures and that they continue to look for cost-saving strategies heading into 2010-2011.
Type of library responding to EBSCO survey
Libraries of all sizes were represented in the survey; 25 percent of respondents were at libraries with 25,000+ users and 35 percent at libraries with 5,000 or fewer users. Roles within the libraries varied, with the most respondents representing the Director level:
- 47% Director-level
- 15% Assistant/Associate Director
- 13% Collections Development
- 8% Serials or E-Resources Librarians
- 5% Acquisitions Librarian
- 14% Other
It was no surprise that the economy has made for a rough year for libraries, and librarians indicate next year does not promise any relief and may actually be worse. Eighty-three percent of librarians reported either budget cuts or no budget growth during the 2009-2010 year. ARL libraries were especially hard hit with 64 percent reporting budget decreases. Expectations for 2010-2011 are similar with a total of 85 percent of respondents expecting decreased or flat budgets.
As librarians face more demands as a result of the move to e-resources, budgets have forced them to reduce staff, resulting in a squeeze on resources needed to perform essential tasks.
The EBSCO survey shows that libraries are coping with the same or increased amounts of work with fewer staff.
Percentage of librarians indicating the following staff actions
Librarians are coping with reduced budgets not only by reducing staff but also in various content acquisition strategies. These include dropping P+E combinations in favor of e-only, reviewing content to eliminate duplication in databases and renegotiating or “breaking up” “big deal” packages.
Percentage of librarians indicating they are very or somewhat likely to employ the following strategies:
To make content acquisition and de-selection decisions, 85 percent of surveyed librarians reported usage statistics/cost-per-use as the most important metric.
Percentage of librarians indicating a metric as very important when making content acquisition/ de-selection decisions
The overwhelming selection of usage as very important to most survey respondents could mean more pressure on industry players to become COUNTER compliant and provide regular usage statistics. As funding issues persist into the next year, content evaluation will continue to play an integral role in cost-cutting decisions.