We enter the new fiscal year with a little less flexibility and a smaller operations budget, but with a renewed commitment to providing quality services for the campus and beyond. I want to thank everyone for their assistance and support as we navigated through the difficult budget reduction process.
As I’ll detail in the September 13th Library Budget Update, the Library was asked to take a 3% budget cut on the operations portion of our budget – the amount remaining after the collections budget and the Library/IT Fee portions of the budget are subtracted away. This amounted to approximately $600K in cuts. Budget cuts were assessed throughout the campus and to all colleges; in fact, the Library’s percentage cut was smaller than the cuts required at many other Colleges. We absorbed these cuts from administrative reductions, reductions in technical and user services, and from a number of lapsed and unfilled positions.
At the same time, at our budget hearing, we requested from the campus an increase of $367K in new permanent collection materials funding for three consecutive years, amounting to a total of $1.1 million in new monies spread across three years. Because we did not receive journal and monographic inflation dollars the previous two years (and reduced inflation allocations before that), we had begun, in FY17, to make journal cancellations in key areas. While we did not receive the requested collections funding commitment, we were granted a reduction in our prescribed budget cut (we were assessed $400K rather than the full $600K) with the stipulation that we apply the remaining $200K for collection needs. So, we did undergo a $600K reduction in operations funding, but we gained much-needed collections support monies. In addition, we were able to generate over $450K in added collection monies – from reallocations and further cancellations – that will be applied to journal inflation needs. We’re in much better shape in collections than we have been for several years.
With this FY18 budget reduction, the Library has now sustained over $2.2 million in cuts to the operations budget over the last three years, and over $3.2 million over the last five years. This is part of a long-term trend that has affected academic libraries across the nation. Like many academic libraries, we have seen our percentage of the total university budget expenditures go down over the last 20 years, from 3.5% of the campus budget to 2.7%. This is reflective, I believe, of growing efficiencies in the automation of information processes, a heavier reliance on central campus services, and a dramatic reduction in service points.
We cannot predict what the next several years will bring, in terms of budget allocations from the campus. Like all units on campus, we will need to rely more heavily on gift, endowment, and grant monies as we move forward with innovative services. As the campus kicks off its new fundraising campaign this October, the Library is poised to play a central role, with our development activities focusing on key needs of the Library. This will be discussed at length in the coming months.
As I wrote earlier, we have a number of opportunities and challenges before us in the next several years. All academic libraries – including Illinois – are pursuing transformative agendas, examining all current services and activities and focusing on the application of emerging information technologies to create innovative spaces, services, and tools to support university strategic initiatives. As the university evolves, so does the Library. We are interested in all your ideas on how to accomplish this.
Acting Dean of Libraries and University Librarian