For many students, the collection of journals available online and in the University’s libraries is one of the main ways to research topics for their courses. But this year it may be harder to find up-to-date information as the University libraries eliminate many paper-based subscriptions during tight economic times.

Paul Wong
Students studying in the Law Library and other campus libraries may find themselves reading more journals online.

“This year every department is taking a cut. … This past April 15, a letter from the proviso said this will be a tighter year,” said Brenda Johnson, associate director for Public Services of the University Library.

“The Library has enjoyed good financial support for our budget over the years. We are not in dire straits as some college libraries across the country,” Johnson said.

The University libraries cut back on 1 percent of paper-based subscriptions last year. “There certainly has been some decline (in use of paper-based journals), but journals still continue to be a significant resource. We are cutting costs wherever possible and appropriate.”

Last year the libraries spent roughly $9.5 million on journal subscriptions. These costs include the subscriptions for 25,000 paper-based journals and a majority of the 12,700 electronic journals. An additional 30,000 paper-based journals are available, funded by gifts and depositions from the government.

There will be a slight increase in subscription prices due to inflation, but the libraries have also received additional funding this year to compensate for that, Johnson said.

Karen Schmidt, associate university librarian for collections at the University of Illinois, said, “This year every university library is being affected by publisher inflations costs and everyone’s budgets are lower.”

“Now the library has especially kept in close contact with faculty, deans and students to see what is in need and where we can cut costs on subscriptions,” Johnson said.

Universities are becoming more dependent on electronic journal subscriptions, which can allow all University members to view the same article at once instead of a paper-based subscription which limits the number of readers. Electronic journals are also cheaper in the long run, library officials said.

“It is not apparent to most people that the library pays for the subscriptions because they have free access to the journals through the University,” Johnson said.

Another means for cutting costs are network connections with other Big Ten universities, which allow all students from these schools to access over 60 million volumes.

The University of Iowa has made significant cutbacks in journal subscriptions, mainly paper-based journals, said Edward Schreeves, director of collections and information resources at the University of Iowa.

“This is not an ideal situation for any library because it limits the amount of information available to students and faculty, but we do have very good access to other collections, including the other libraries in the Big Ten. Electronic resources compensated for some of the reductions,” Schreeves said.

LSA senior Morlie Patel said since the publishing process can take up to two years, the information may be old once a book is published.

“A magazine that gets published weekly or even bi-yearly will contain the most useful, recent information,” she said. “It is especially important to keep a wide variety of subscriptions for such a research-based university, like Michigan.”

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