K-State Libraries holds forum about budget, temporary spending cuts on academic journals

Workers scrape the paint off the ceilings on the first floor of Hale library to help the drying process before renovations begin. Hale Library suffered extensive fire and water damage on May 22, 2018. (Sabrina Cline | Collegian Media Group)

At 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Lori Goetsch, dean of libraries, held a public forum to discuss the termination of academic journal spending at Kansas State University for the 2019 fiscal year.

According to K-State Libraries, the decision to enact a hold on spending for academic subscriptions was made due to the inflated cost of journal and database subscription fees along with Hale Library’s declining budget.

This issue is part of an international trend of rising academic journal costs and decreasing library budgets. Library Journal, a trade publication, described this trend as “death by a thousand cuts” in a 2018 article. Goetsch referenced the article at the beginning of the presentation joking that they were considering calling the program by that name.

Joelle Pitts, head of content development for K-State Libraries and graduate student in business, said that since fiscal year 2014, the library has had to cut $731,844 worth of academic material. Currently, they are looking at a potential spending cut of $645,000 to cover budget shortfalls for fiscal years 2019 and 2020.

For now, research faculty members are barred from purchasing additional research material for the year as the department investigates the budget issue.

K-State Libraries plans to address the continued rising cost of academic material by encouraging professors to publish their work in open access journals, applying pressure to academic journals to focus less on profit margins, continue membership with open access journals and utilize interlibrary loan services to lower journal costs.

After the presentation by Goetsch and Pitts, the floor was opened for questions.

Stefan Bossmann, professor of chemistry, emphasized the importance of having a good library system.

“Frequent library cuts will strangle the ability of all of us to do world class competitive research,” Bossmann said. “The university wants to become a recognized research university, and that means we have to have the resources. There has to be a political discussion. It’s really important to make our administration understand that they are jeopardizing their goal.”

This statement was met with applause from the crowd.