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Direction of Libraries' Serial Selection under Review

By David Nutter

Spectrum Volume 20 Issue 07 - October 9, 1997

Eileen Hitchingham, dean of university libraries, has launched a review of the impact of the rising cost of library serials.
Working at the direction of Erv Blythe, vice president for information systems, a university-wide committee has been formed to review serials inflation in a substantive way. Concern, like the cost of the serials, has been rising across campus. Both the University Libraries Advisory Committee and the Commission on Research have expressed concern about the impact of serial costs on scholarship. The committee will hold its first meeting Monday, Oct. 13.
In addition to Hitchingham, who will chair the committee, other members include Nick Stone, CALS Information Systems; Yvan Beliveau, building construction; Ed Fox, computer science; Ralph Badinelli, management science; Karen Swenson, English; John Husser, music; Richard Gandour, chemistry; Gene Cliff, aerospace and ocean engineering; Earl Kline, wood science and forestry; Ray Plaut, civil engineering; Bob Williges, industrial and systems engineering; Eliza Tse, hospitality and tourism; Karen Dyer, veterinary medicine; John Burton, teaching and learning; John Eaton, dean; and Gail McMillan and Paul Metz, University Libraries.
Blythe has said the University Libraries Serials Collection Committee's charge is threefold. First, it will propose alternative delivery systems and strategies for the information resources that are currently provided by the libraries' serials collection. A second responsibility is to recommend a reasonable serials subscription budget goal over the next six years taking into account inflationary factors. Third, it will examine the current process for determining changes in the serials collection.
Blythe says that he is encouraged that understanding of this problem--rising serial costs and flat state revenues--is now being recognized across the campus. He noted a recent letter he received from the Commission on Research, which said: "The Commission on Research acknowledges and appreciates your efforts to minimize the impact of budgetary shortfalls on the serials collection. Further we concur that it is judicious and appropriate to consider long-term, alternative methods to enable the university community to access the vital information contained in serial publications."
Adjusting the libraries' collection-management policies to a new economic and technological context while at the same time taking into account academic faculty members' expectations, and the university administration's practices concerning the libraries' budget is a challenge. The committee will need to take a close look at the responses of our peer institutions to the serials inflation problem, in particular, North Carolina State.
Spectrum will continue to keep the campus community informed of committee developments.