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Message from the Interim University Librarian

Recent budget challenges have brought the UCI Libraries to a crossroads, and the decisions made during this year will have a significant impact on many faculty and students and will have long-lasting consequences regarding how the Libraries contribute to the research and education mission of the UCI. Some of the changes associated with these decisions will be positive for the campus community. Others may cause significant inconvenience for our users. As an organization that prides itself on the services we provide to faculty and students, implementing changes that may have a negative impact on our users is an extremely difficult and painful step, but an inevitable one, given the budget cuts assessed to the Libraries.

The last year has been a very difficult one for the UCI community. The Libraries absorbed approximately 12% of the total budget cuts assessed to the UCI campus ($45M) over the past two fiscal years. In FY09/10, the Libraries sustained a budget cut of 20%, a level that was noticeably higher than the majority of cuts assessed to other campus units. On top of a 3.5% budget cut in FY08/09, this cut resulted in a reduction to the Libraries base budget of over $5 million since FY08, which has already led to cuts to the collections budget and the loss of 28 staff and 17 librarian positions through attrition (a 22% reduction in staffing). We've cut library hours, cancelled certain databases, cancelled print versions of serials that we receive in a digital format, and reduced acquisitions of monographs and certain media resources. We reduced custodial service and security expenditures, which resulted in deterioration in the comfort and perceived safety of library facilities.

We are developing strategies to reduce further our serials and monograph expenditures that will impact the depth and quality of the collections that we provide on campus. We are also exploring options for charging or eliminating Document Delivery Services and are revisiting the fees that we charge for Inter Library Loan (ILL), use of library space, how we provide copying/printing, and support for digital services projects. Unfortunately, some of these changes may inconvenience our users, and we sincerely apologize for this impact and will do our best to mitigate it.

At the same time, not all changes that we are contemplating are negative. Examples of some positive changes include:

  • Exploring options for on-demand and patron driven ILL/purchasing models to focus collection expenditures on highest user priorities.
  • Exploring options for providing more instruction through online tutorials/technology assisted methods.
  • Providing digital publishing tools and services that will enable faculty to create, disseminate and preserve their research in an open, cost-effective, and sustainable fashion.
  • Reinvigorating the Libraries' organization by redistributing personnel resources to areas of highest priority.
  • Fully participating in the multi-campus cooperative library initiatives that are in pilot or planning phases, including partnerships to reduce "back room" costs and participation in system wide efforts to reduce duplication in collections across the UC campuses
  • Improving ILL by exploring partnerships within and beyond UC to connect UCI faculty and students to the resources that they need in a more efficient and cost effective manner.

At the same time that we've been addressing the aftermath of these severe budget cuts, we've been addressing critical space issues. This move has been fostered in part by the recommendation made in the Library Task Force that the Libraries give up 30,000 sq.ft. to be reassigned to units that are currently in leased space off campus. By taking this action, the Libraries could generate another $1M in savings for the campus, on top of the $5M savings already taken. However, this recommendation is apparently based in part on the debatable view that all of the necessary information and knowledge to support research and teaching is already in digital format or will be in digital form in a relatively short timeframe. Final decisions by campus administrators on the issues of reallocation of Library space have not yet been made.

As we make these changes, we will do our best to communicate important information in a timely manner and seek your feedback on how we are doing. I hope we can count on your support during these difficult times as all of us adjust to the new size and shape of the UCI Libraries.

Gerald R. Lowell
Interim University Librarian


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