Fall Update 2017
Welcome, all! Chester Fritz Library (CFL) would like to update everyone on projects in progress and news.
Open Educational Resources (OERs)
Our OER initiatives continue to grow. With funds from the ND State Legislature (via NDUS), Student Government, and the Office of the Provost, we have funded OERs for courses in Calculus (1, 2, and 3), Psychology, Sociology, Political Science, Aviation Meteorology, Art, History, Business (2 courses), English, Family Medicine, Nursing, Electrical Engineering, Petroleum Engineering, Civil Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Geology, and Communications. We will announce another round of funding shortly – stay tuned! So far, we have saved UND students over $3.4 million in textbook costs. We are grateful to Student Government and the Office of the Provost for providing $75,000 and $25,000 respectively, to fund rounds 3 and 4. We are planning further events and workshops on OERs; our next event is tentatively set for Monday, Oct. 23 (during Open Access Week). Details to follow!
UND Scholarly Commons: Our New Institutional Repository (IR) Is Almost Here!
In the Summer Update, I described our progress in creating an IR at UND. We had 3 RFP responses and held well-attended open vendor presentations. We selected bePress’s Digital Commons. We finalized the contract and began working on the IR’s design and structure. It has been named the UND Scholarly Commons, and we have a test site. We worked with UND Marketing to ensure typography, colors, and design features are appropriate. We are preparing initial collections for ingestion, including:
- All UND Geology theses and dissertations since 1914.
- Elwyn Robinson’s History of North Dakota - We obtained grants from NDUS and the Northern Plains Heritage Research Foundation, and funds from Stephen Robinson. We purchased rights, added links and interactive features, and made it openly available in formats suitable for multiple readers and for users with disabilities. It will launch soon.
- UND Art Collections inventory.
- Images of the Margaret Cable Pottery Collection.
There will be many more collections. We are eager to add more: we can host faculty pre-prints, post-prints, research data, audio, images, etc. We also hope to use the UND Scholarly Commons to host accreditation items for departments wishing to have a secure repository for these. We can adapt security and access provisions as needed. The IR will be live by late September! To discuss a project, please contact Zeineb Yousif (Digital Initiatives Librarian) at firstname.lastname@example.org or 777-6939.
An IR is a critical tool for UND. Most federal granting agencies now require grant recipients to make research and data openly available in order to receive federal funding, e.g. see NIH’s Public Access Policy. Without an IR, getting federal grants may be difficult. We met with CIO Madhavi Marasinghe, VP Grant McGimpsey, and Dr. Aaron Bergstrom of the Computing Research Center to discuss services the IR will facilitate, including Research Data Management.
Thanks to Kelicia Christianson of UND’s Web Team, and to my fellow members of the IR Working Group for their hard work: Will Martin (Head of Library Digital Initiatives, Systems, amp; Services), Zeineb Yousif (Digital Initiatives Librarian), Stephen Nonte (Cataloging & Metadata Librarian), Kelly Thormodson (Director of the Health Sciences Library), Dr. Lori Swinney (CILT), Dr. Travis DeSell (Computer Science), and Dr. Aaron Bergstrom (Computational Research Center).
As noted in the Summer Update, the budget situation affects staffing. I will reiterate some information, to ensure everyone is aware of the impact on hours and services. 2.5 vacant, funded positions will not be filled; other positions for which funding has lapsed remain vacant. As well, Richard Suggs (Periodicals) and Debbie Vonasek (Technical Services) retired in 2015-16; these positions won’t be filled. Some duties were reallocated; others ceased. We reduced hours and services at some desks.
However, we were able to fill a vital position: Sara Kuhn (email@example.com), our Social Sciences & Scholarly Communications Librarian, started on June 5, 2017. She is already having a big impact on campus, and is working closely with the College of Education & Human Development, the College of Business & Public Administration, and the Office of Research to provide information on the changing world of scholarly communications and publishing. Be sure to check out the Research Guides she's already created. We especially invite you to view new guides on Publishing Strategies; Research Impact – Metrics; Research Impact – Altmetrics; Researcher Profiles; and Scholarly Communication. All bibliographers create research guides in their areas; contact your subject librarian if you’d like a guide created on a topic for your teaching. We are always happy to discuss how the Libraries can support you and your students with teaching and learning.
Budget and Collections
Part A: Libraries Worldwide - A Tricky Situtation & CFL's Past
It’s no secret that UND has had to deal with some cuts in the last 2 years, as have other institutions across ND. We announced cuts last year, and over time, with some help, we were able to restore some titles. Then in April, the 12% cuts were announced, and at this point, I should explain why the Libraries were in what is perhaps a uniquely challenging situation at UND, but one that is NOT unique to academic libraries. This is not a matter of poor management in the libraries or at UND – not at all. This is a global issue, and it is important that faculty be aware of these issues. Library resources are not only critical to your research, but your research is also what ultimately forms the content of the journals. You submit your work to journals, you serve on editorial boards, you conduct peer review, you send your own research for peer review, and then the library turns around and purchases the journals. This is an ecosystem, and we are partners within it. Many of you may already be aware of the details, but for those of you who may not be, here we go – a tricky situation, explained briefly:
The biggest problem for academic libraries worldwide is that database and journal prices have risen an average of 6-8% annually, sometimes more. This has been ongoing since the mid-1990s. Yes, that means these costs have more than quadrupled; library budgets have not. Most academic libraries are in some financial straits. In 2012, Drew Gilpin Faust, President of Harvard, wrote a memo telling faculty that Harvard could no longer afford “everything” (see coverage in The Guardian. In 2009, Richard Edwards (Senior Vice Chancellor of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln) and David Shulenburger (Provost of the University of Kansas) wrote an article entitled “The High Cost of Scholarly Journals – And What To Do About It” that was published in Change , and which they have subsequently made available in the University of Kansas’s Scholar Works open access institutional repository, under rights they have retained. I’m quoting the following: “According to data collected by the Association of Research Libraries (and available at www.arl.org/stats), during the 16 year interval between 1986 and 2001, scholarly journals prices overall increased by 8.5 % per year, while the CPI grew by 3.4 % per year. These differing inflation rates mean that over the entire 16 year period, journal prices jumped by 215%, the CPI just 64%. Journal prices even grew twice as fast as health care prices during the same period. Such increases in journal prices appear likely to continue. In consequence, research libraries and especially university libraries are perpetually in crisis as they struggle to find enough money to maintain their journal subscriptions - by demanding bigger budgets, by shifting funds from other library operations (e.g., reducing acquisition of monographs), and by regularly pruning their journals list. All of these strategies have seriously damaged the libraries’ effectiveness in supporting research. For example, if libraries cannot provide the most recent research results, scientists will waste valuable time and resources needlessly replicating work that has been done by others, time that could be better spent in building on known research findings.” Notably, despite the article’s title, no library or university has found a complete solution. All of us are employing multiple strategies, as best we can. The problem is global.
The way in which publishers sell their wares contributes to the problem, as does consolidation in scholarly publishing. We cannot easily purchase just our most-used journals; because of the way publishers bundle products, purchasing even your most-wanted 20% is usually more costly than buying the bundle. Several people have suggested we purchase databases with NDSU and just split the costs: this is not legal. If it was, huge consortia could make such purchases and end up having each member pay very little, and the publishers would be extremely unhappy. Rather, costs are calculated according to FTEs, so joining with other universities means the price rises. We do purchase most resources through the Minitex consortium, which includes academic libraries in ND, SD, and Minnesota, and we thereby get discounts. For example, UND Libraries pay over $500,000/year for Wiley; Science Direct costs over $800,000. How expensive are these packages? Very. They are a good “value” in that they are so heavily used that costs are often just a dollar or a few dollars per downloaded article. But the packages are not cheap. We are not permitted to provide precise costs, due to confidentiality clauses in the licenses – which also help publishers charge higher prices, by making comparisons difficult – but as ND is a “sunshine state” with open records law, and state law supersedes licenses, I am comfortable sharing at least a general price, especially as I have been asked for this information repeatedly. Also, the shrinkage in the number of academic publishers has further strengthened the stranglehold large publishers have. Five publishers now control over 50% of scholarly publishing. See the articles " These Five Companies Control More Than Half of Academic Publishing" in Science Alert and "The Oligopoly of Academic Publishers in the Digital Era" in PLOS One . You can clearly see, over time, this becomes a perfect storm – rising prices, restrictive bundles, and near-monopolies on scholarly publishing.
In the past, CFL sought to avoid cutting collections, despite rising costs. Salary savings, equipment funds, various other small savings, and revenues were redirected to collections. However, rising costs outstripped CFL’s ability to trim in other areas. This led to budget shortfalls, which successive Provosts and Presidents generously absorbed for many years. We also lost revenue sources, such as funding from some faculty grants (which ended), printing revenue, and funding contributed from various units. All of that meant, however, that we were already running very lean operations when the cuts arose.
Part B: More Good News
Fortunately, UND has launched a new Strategic Plan, and under the Discovery Goal, you can find “Enhance discovery at a level consistent with most research-intensive universities (Carnegie R1).” Clearly, UND is very committed to research. We have been privileged to receive strategic reinvestment in the Libraries, and we are working closely with the Office of the Provost, publishers, and others. Some of the cuts we announced last June, in the Summer Update, have been restored. Many faculty have been concerned about the possible loss of other large packages, and we believe these can now be averted.
We are still making some cuts, but many of these are part of strategic collection management – and we are also gaining access to some important resources instead. For example, we are reviewing all print subscriptions to see where there is overlap with contents of other packages, and to see what we may now permanently own, based on purchases of JSTOR packages or other resources. We are cancelling our small collection of popular magazines, such as Rolling Stone and Consumer Reports. This does not mean loss of access to all of these titles; many are included in EBSCO’s Academic Search package, which we have. But we had long had a small browsing collection in print. Now, we have decided that our funds are better used on access to scholarly titles; we will leave print popular magazines to the public library sphere. We have redirected some funds that had traditionally been in the book budget in order to purchase access to a huge collection (over 25,000 titles) of e-books from JSTOR’s Evidence Based Acquisition collection; these titles are from scholarly presses, such as Princeton University Press, and are in a huge range of disciplines. We believe this package will actually greatly expand access to works from scholarly presses. If you would like to see a complete list of these titles, our Technical Services department has tagged every record, so that you can type “JSTOR EBA” in the catalog search box and get a full list. (They will also, of course, come up by title, author, etc.) We have also cancelled some other resources with substantial overlap, in an effort to use our funds wisely; for example, ProQuest Psychology had over 70% overlap with other packages to which we subscribed, so after an analysis of the non-overlapping titles and how heavily they were used at UND, we decided to cancel the package, and purchase only the top few heavily used, non-overlapping titles individually. We utilized some funds thereby saved to purchase more JSTOR collections in Arts & Sciences and Business; these are permanent purchases of scholarly journal backfiles, with small annual maintenance fees.
This situation is changing rapidly, and we are still working on many analyses. We are also attempting to negotiate with publishers and vendors. We will keep you up to date with regular bulletins, in as timely a manner as possible. We will publish a complete list of all changes on the Library website, once they are finalized.
We would again like to express our deep gratitude to President Kennedy and Provost DiLorenzo for their support. I would also like to thank the faculty and the Deans, for their support and their patience, as we work through these complex situations. I’d also like to thank the University Senate Library Committee, for its interest and strong support; Randy Pederson, who has done yeoman’s work as our Head of Collections; and all of the bibliographers who have been putting many, many hours into analyzing our collections and how they map to current and emerging University of North Dakota curricular initiatives.
Thank you, and we look forward to continuing to serve you and work with you.
Stephanie Walker, Dean of Libraries & Information Resources
Chester Fritz Library, University of North Dakota
(updated 14 September 2017)