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Philip Doty (associate professor, library and information science) submitted the following report on behalf of the Library Committee. The committee will present the report to the Faculty Council at its meeting on March 18, 2002.


John R. Durbin, Secretary
The General Faculty


Report on Library Consortia
University Library Committee
February 28, 2002

This report examines the impact of consortia on library purchases. Specific areas that were considered include faculty input on library purchase decision-making and how the growth of consortial purchases has affected the library as a whole and selected representative disciplines which we have surveyed.

The report is divided into three sections:

Background information on UT-Austin membership in consortia and the operation of consortia;
Committee summary of how consortia have impacted faculty input and purchase decisions;
Data collected from library staff which contributed to the preparation of the committee summary

I. Background information on UT-Austin membership in consortia and the operation of consortia

UT-Austin Membership in Consortia

UT-Austin began participation in consortia about seven years ago. Our campus is part of two principal consortia:

  • - the UT System Digital Library (all UT system campuses including two teaching hospitals and four medical schools). Sue Philips, Associate Director of UT-Austin General Libraries, has responsibility for negotiating licenses for this group.

  • -TexShare (650 academic libraries and public libraries throughout the state). The Texas State Library and Archives Commission has responsibility for negotiating licenses for this group.

To a lesser extent, UT-Austin works with the Greater Western Library Alliance consortium of university libraries in 14 states and a few other smaller consortia.

Should UT-Austin belong to additional consortia?

Sue Phillips and Dennis Dillon, Assistant Director of UT-Austin General Libraries, said the existing consortia are meeting the needs of the library for negotiating competitive licensing of electronic journals and electronic books. The UT System consortium is particularly effective in comparison to other university or state-based consortia.


How do the consortia generally work?

The consortia are entirely concerned with electronic publications, not paper journals or books. Paper copies of journals produced by commercial publishers are expected to continue to decline in importance. Using the UT System consortium as an example, Sue Philips negotiates licenses with publishers to set up subscriptions to a number of electronic journals as a package deal. The different UT campuses can choose which of these journals they wish to subscribe to and therefore pay for. During the contract period with a vendor for a package of journals, an individual campus can also choose to cancel a subscription to a given journal at any time. If a paper copy of the journal is also desired, the campus will need to pay usually 10-15% more than the cost of the electronic subscription. If some schools drop subscriptions for financial reasons, there may be a minor impact on the subscription costs of the remaining subscribing institutions within the consortium, but this situation has not happened yet.

The cost of the electronic subscription is different for different campuses. The publisher may use pricing formulas that involve student enrollment, the number of teaching faculty in a discipline, or other factors such as institutional size. Typically, subscription costs increase with enrollment as defined by FTEs. UT-Austin has often negotiated packages with vendors in which we pay for certain journals and are given free access to other journals. UT-Austin has never signed a license ñas isî from the publisher. Contracts are negotiated until acceptable licensing changes are made, or until UT-Austin or the vendor cancels negotiations, which has happened.

The negotiations for a license that serves the members of the consortium are typically protracted and time-consuming. The signing of a license can take three months to three years. There is currently no standardized contract. Different states have different rules for the vendors to comply with (such as requiring that the vendor purchase items manufactured in TX, to certify that their employees are not failing to pay child support, etc!). This patchwork of rules particularly complicates negotiations for a consortium involving multiple states. In addition, there is a new rule requiring one or two signatures from the business office of each campus prior to completing UT System-wide licensing agreements.

What is the process for identifying new library materials for the consortia?

For the UT System, Sue Philips takes suggestions from librarians and faculty from member campuses. New acquisitions are very limited due to the current financial state of library budgets all over the country, so the main consortial activity is renewing existing materials. In general, material considered for consortial purchases are items that a majority of the library members of a consortium already subscribe to.

Is the system for measurement of usage of electronic publications adequate?

The publishers with a consortial licensing agreement will periodically provide data on the usage of their ejournals. This information can be as detailed as identifying particular articles used. The General Libraries have reason to believe that the publishers' reporting is trustworthy and that usage of ejournals is much higher than that of paper counterparts in the library.

Are UT-Austin's consortia negotiating contracts competitive with other consortia?

The UT System consortium is internationally recognized as a leader in library consortia. For example, the rate of inflation for subscriptions over the last three years worldwide has been 10-12%., but the UT System licencing agreements have limited cost increases to 4-6% over the same time period. Through the library grapevine, there is feedback that a number of the UT System licensing agreements are better deals than agreements by other library consortia such as the Great Western Library Alliance or the California Digital Library system.

Is the administration of the UT System consortium efficient?


The UT System consortium efficiently communicates via a password-protected Web site, an innovation among consortia whose activities usually occur at quarterly meetings. The site freely disburses information to the member campuses so that all are aware of developments.

How can the UT-Austin's affiliated consortia be improved?

Sue Philips and Dennis Dillon said a priority is to have central funding of the UT System consortium from the Board of Regents. This should be added funding to support acquisitions through the consortium besides the funding through the member campuses. Peer, public university consortia have such financial support, e.g., Ohio, Virginia, Georgia, and California, as do countries such as Canada, Norway, and the UK. The California consortium has about $7 million for content funding. Generally, the centralized funding is used to purchase a core set of the highest priority subscriptions, hence freeing funds of the member campuses for the purchase of other subscriptions. The UT System consortium is developing a request for central funding.

II. Committee summary of how consortia have impacted faculty input and purchase decisions

The overall assessment of the University Library Committee is that UT-Austin's participation in consortia has been absolutely vital to maintaining and expanding library collections in a persistently tight budgetary environment. The library budget has been flat or even declining when compared to inflation since the mid-1980's. These budgetary constraints, together with the development of Internet technology, have fueled the development of consortia to procure electronic journals and books. In the area of electronic journals, a telling statistic is that the UT System consortium has purchased subscriptions for $4 million that would cost $32 million if individual subscriptions were purchased by the different campuses. Many highly valued subscriptions that were cancelled for budgetary reasons have been restored as part of packages negotiated by the consortia. In the area of electronic books, nearly 50,000 electronic books have been purchased by UT-Austin over the past three years via three consortia. These books were selected to represent all disciplines on campus. The consortial mechanism enabled these books to be purchased overall at well below list prices. There has been a major shift by libraries world-wide to use the power of consortia to negotiate lower pricing from publishers. The Committee was impressed that the UT System consortium is considered among the most effective and innovative among its peers nationally and internationally. However, it is worth emphasizing that the gains through consortial purchases will be diminished over the long term unless there is adequate funding of library budgets, minimally to keep pace with inflation.

To understand whether consortial purchasing has diminished traditional faculty and student input into the library purchases decision-making process, members of the University Library Committee subcommittee on consortia provided reports either directly (Dennis Dillon) or written based on interviews with bibliographers, faculty and/or students in their discipline (Matthew Bailey, Don Drumtra and Mona Mehdy) (see attached, Section III). In addition, the topic was discussed at meetings of the University Library Committee and subcommittee on consortia. Some shared viewpoints emerge from these discussions:

a) faculty and student input are collected in various ways similar to input collected before the widespread use of consortia in some disciplines. This input continues to play the major role in new purchases or cancellations of existing subscriptions. The consensus among the library staff was unequivocally stated by Dennis Dillon who said that consortial purchases have no effect on the selection process. 1

b) because the budget has been flat or declining when compared to inflation for most libraries on campus since the mid-1980's, there has been little opportunity to add new subscriptions except through the savings generated by consortial purchases or the elimination of duplication with other campus libraries.

c) the choice of electronic access to journals or print copies is determined by many factors including availability, cost, the budget, and faculty members' preferences within a given discipline. Electronic

1 Sentence added March 18, 2002.


access has been particularly valued in the sciences, and the widespread use of consortial agreements with scientific publishers reflects this interest of the readership.

d) the budgets for libraries representing different disciplines have been allocated on the basis of the same factors driving these budgetary allocations before the existence of consortia. The science libraries have larger budgets than libraries serving the humanities for several reasons including the increase in the number of scientific journals, the higher inflation rate typical of publishing in the sciences, and the growth of science faculty and students on campus.

The University Library Committee expressed a consensus that library purchases through consortia (1) have had no negative impact on selection and cancellation of materials, (2) are a major financial asset to the University, and (3) are managed well on behalf of the faculty and students at UT-Austin. Moreover, the Committee strongly supports centralized funding for the UT System consortium commensurate with centralized funding at numerous peer university systems. This allotment would enable growth of consortial purchases not currently possible based on current flat revenues from the member campuses. Lastly, continuing success of consortial purchases depends on development of mechanisms to increase general library funding, a goal which we enthusiastically and unanimously support.

III. Data collected from library staff which contributed to the preparation of the committee summary (Section II)

See attached pages

Report of Matthew Bailey on meeting with Hugo Chapa Guzman, bibliographer for Spain and Portugal, February 2002, to discuss library purchases and the impact of consortia

The bibliographer for Spain and Portugal is in frequent communication with members of the Dept. of Spanish and Portuguese, usually the chairman, the library liaison and individual faculty. Regular communication is maintained through visits and e-mail. Occasionally the Library Committee of the Dept. of Spanish and Portuguese provides checklists of important monographs for purchase. Finally, individual faculty members are consulted when questions arise regarding purchase decisions involving their specialty.

In spring of 1991, as part of the last major serials cancellation at U.T., a survey was sent to the Dept. of Spanish and Portuguese with a request that their journals be rated. From a total of approximately eighty journals, thirteen of those ranked lowest were cancelled for a savings of $263 dollars. Since then no journals have been cancelled. When necessary some journal subscriptions have been made part of the Spanish departmental fund (*span). Journals are added only after consultation with departmental faculty. If any new cancellations were made, faculty members would be consulted, except in instances of duplicate subscriptions housed in different libraries or of the same journal being available in print and on line. In these circumstances, subscriptions may be cancelled without consultation of faculty.

Consortia agreements have had little effect on journal purchases, since few journals have been added or cancelled.

Input for Consortia Subcommittee Report on the library purchases and the impact of consortia from Dennis Dillon, Assistant Director of UT-Austin General Libraries, February 12, 2002

What is the impact of consortial contracts on the University's serial and book collections?

The impact of consortial contracts is savings of between $4 and $5 million a year. Consortia contracts exist to achieve discounted pricing through group purchasing power. Without the benefit of consortial contracts every discipline and every faculty member would have less access to published research in their field. Consortia, or group purchasing by libraries, is an attempt make up for funding levels that have not kept pace with increases in the volume scholarly publication.




How are faculty involved in the purchasing of scholarly material when the purchasing is done via consortial contracts?.

Faculty input is the same for all items. The middlemen the library uses in its purchases, whether these middlemen are consortia, subscription vendors, database vendors, book dealers etc. change daily. Middlemen are selected to get the best terms possible for the University within the constraints of state law and University purchasing regulations. A title will be purchased directly from a publisher one year,through a database vendor the next year, and from a consortia the next year - depending on how the library can achieve the best value for the University.

How is the $ pot size for different disciplines decided?

Allocations for library materials are determined through an annual review of the library needs of the different University programs and departments; a review of the annual funding requests and reports from each library selector; and a review of the past year's acquisitions performance and costs by the library's major vendors. Items considered during the allocation process include: information use patterns in the discipline; the number of faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students; the number of undergraduate and graduate semester credit hours taught; the average cost of domestic and foreign monographs and serials in the subject, the average cost and coverage of databases and other special formats in the subject; new courses, concentrations, or degrees; personnel changes in the department especially as they relate to the cessation or the beginning of new areas of focus; changes in the book trade, publishing, and information technology; use of the subject material by groups other than the primary department or program (interdisciplinary needs); library partnerships, cooperative collection development programs, consortia, and legislatively mandated library initiatives; subject collection development levels at peer institutions; inter-library loan statistics in the subject; grants, gifts, endowments, and special one-time infusions of additional funding in the subject; distance learning initiatives and similar goals by the library's parent funding agencies including the University, University System, and the state of Texas; the library's overall responsibilities to scholarship, the citizens of the state, and future generations; and the status of the library's overall budgetary constraints considered within the total range of its commitments

Have their proportions of the budget remained approx same or is there shift favoring one or other discipline?

All disciplines taught on campus are supported equally with access to the published research in their discipline necessary to support the degree levels awarded at the University. Over the last twenty-five years there has been a gradual increase in the amount of funds required to support journal publishing in the sciences.

The amount of research materials needed by the sciences has increased dramatically over the past twenty-five years, as the sciences have become increasingly specialized, with each new sub-discipline spawning new journals, publications, databases, etc. This has affected all libraries worldwide. The primary reasons have been the rapid increase in the number of Science faculty, the rapid increase in the amount of material published in the sciences worldwide, governmental support of science programs through grants and funding worldwide, and commercialization of science publishing.

Have large consortial agreements with vendors of science journals taken precedence and led to decline in $ pot size in non-science disciplines with fewer big vendor agreements?

Consortial agreements reduce inflation and provide increased access to materials. Without the dollars savings accrued through consortial agreements, library purchasing in all disciplines would decrease.

If two journals are equally rated by faculty and equally fulfill a scholarly niche, will the electronic journal be chosen over the print journals because the electronic journal is cheaper?

These decisions are made by individual bibliographers depending on conditions and circumstances that pertain to the particular user group affected, and based on the business terms and technical considerations of the journal in question. Electronic journals are not always cheaper and they are not always technically compatible with UT information delivery systems. Art faculty may prefer a journal in print, and biology faculty may prefer an electronic journal with its linking features and additional functionality.


Typical UT-Austin consortia subscriptions:

MLA Bibliography:

UT-Austin has always had a print subscription
1991 UT-Austin CD-ROM subscription.
1995 UT-Austin Web subscription.
1997 UT System consortia subscription.
2000 TexShare consortia subscription.

List Price $14,000, we pay $2,000

Books In Print

UT-Austin has always had print subscriptions
1991 UT-Austin CD-ROM subscription.
1995 UT-Austin Web subscription.
1997 UT System consortia subscription.
2000 TexShare consortia subscription.

List Price $5,000, we pay $0

Oxford English Dictionary

UT-Austin has always had print copies.
1997 UT-Austin Web subscription.
2000 Amigos consortia subscription (national consortial contract).

List price $.28 per student FTE, we pay $0.215 per FTE,

Elsevier journals

1999 UT-Austin subscribed to 596 Elsevier journals at a cost of $925,203

In 2001 UT-Austin has access to 1300 Elsevier journals at a cost of $1,089,225 through the UT System consortia

At normal inflation rates the 596 1999 journals would have cost between $1,119,495 _ $1,202,393 by 2001.

The UT System consortia arrangement has saved us a significant amount of money, and increased the number of journals our faculty and students have access to. The new journals receive considerable use. See overall use stats here and specific journal title use numbers here. Without the consortia arrangement, we'd be paying more and have access to less.

Input for Consortia Subcommittee Report

Don Drumtra

2002 February 19

This brief input provides information for the subcommittee report from two aspects: consortia support for graduate students, whom I formally represent, and consortia support for the faculty and students of GSLIS.


Graduate Students

Desire for online resources. I have not heard complaints from graduate students on the issue of the use of consortia for supplying material. On the contrary, those, with whom I have addressed the issue of online versus paper, opt for online material. Many of the students (particularly doctoral students) work from their home--some far from the campus. They greet the richness of the consortia publications not only with acceptance, but also with enthusiasm. The more periodicals online and the more ebooks available, the fewer trips they have to make to the library to support their research. The students consider also ereserves a particularly useful tool to reduce the number of trips they must make to the library.

Better search tools. The one need that occasionally surfaces in my discussions is the desire for better search tools that will help students find material with greater recall and precision in the electronic journals and ebooks available through the consortia.

Specific consortia arrangements do not matter. There is little concern among the graduate students, with whom I have discussed the issue, of the source of the material as long as the material is available online and as long as the fee increases to support it are reasonable.

Specific questions. Other than the above responses, the specific questions asked on the use of consortia are not applicable to graduate students.

Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS)

Support of Research. Most professors of the GSLIS use their personal collections to support their research, but there are others who depend extensively on the general libraries. Professors, who are members of the professional organizations that support their specific sub-disciplines, receive personal copies of important journals. Also, as reviewers of manuscripts and books, they often receive new material before it becomes available to the library. However, this is not true for all members of the faculty. On the contrary, some faculty members use library resources extensively for their specialized research particularly in related disciplines. And they also use the library to support teaching.

Support of teaching. GSLIS professors use library material to support their classes through reserves or in support of student papers. Being the discipline that is most concerned with the institution of libraries, the availability of campus libraries provide the professors a real world example on how libraries operate. Many of the GSLIS students work in the various campus libraries to gain real-world experience to support their classes. Professors work closely with Drew Racine, the LIS subject expert at the library, to make sure resources are available to support class writing projects and other class activities. In this regard, the only problem I have become aware of is cumbersome password access to one online journal that is not part of the consortia packages. However, the professor advises that the resource will not be needed until the fall 2002 semester giving Drew and the library computer folks time to resolve the problem. I have received no concerns about the lack of availability of material supported by consortial arrangements.

Cooperation with PCL. There is close cooperation between the faculty of the GSLIS and PCL staff. Faculty members have participated in the development of the LIS collections development policy (see Although there has been close cooperation in collections development, the faculty members of GSLIS appear content to let the library make the decisions on the best way to acquire material to support the discipline. In this regard, there seems to be little concern with specific consortial arrangements to acquire the material to support GSLIS. (This is not to say that some faculty members are not interested in consortia from an academic view; methods of acquisition of library material are important subjects of great interest to some of the GSLIS academic community.)

Questions and answers.with Drew Racine, the subject matter expert for LIS, on February 14, 2002 and on my discussions and experience with the faculty of the LIS discipline.

a) Bibliographer choices:

  • How do bibliographers for a given scholarly area make decisions on how they spend their budget?

    Drew considers the material requested from LIS faculty and students, as well as new the literature in the field, and purchases new material based on the most that can be acquired with the resources available. He works with the GSLIS faculty to prioritize and defer requirements if there are insufficient funds for immediate purchase.

  • Specifically, how do they gather input from faculty?


GSLIS faculty and staff let Drew know via the Suggest New Title Web page (, via telephone discussions, and via personal discussions.

  • How do they decide what subscriptions to maintain, drop or new ones to add?

    Since the discipline has relatively few journals, there have not been recent tradeoff decisions needed. If a situation arises, Drew would work with the GSLIS faculty to make a decision that was acceptable to all.

  • Are they influenced or pressured by the availability of consortial contracts to retain certain subscriptions and purchases and to exclude others based on monetary, not scholarly grounds?

    Not that anyone can recall.

  • How has the availability of consortial agreements affected their decision-making, if any?

    There does not seem to be an effect.

b) Purchasing choices:

  • How is the $ pot size for different disciplines decided?

    There is only one discipline in GSLIS. Requirements for sub-disciplines are considered and prioritized if necessary under the entire discipline.

  • Have their proportions of the budget remained approx same or is there shift favoring one or other discipline?

    There are never enough resources to buy all the material that would be nice to have. It appears that UT resource expenditures are tipped in favor of the sciences versus the humanities.

  • Have large consortial agreements with vendors of science journals taken precedence and led to decline in $ pot size in non-science disciplines with fewer big vendor agreements?

    We have not noticed that consortial agreements per se are the cause of the lack of funds. Rather it appears to be a bias toward science versus humanities.

  • If two journals are equally rated by faculty and equally fulfill a scholarly niche, will the electronic journal be chosen over the print journals because the electronic journal is cheaper?

    In general, the cheaper version is preferred (assuming it is a complete version and not a dumbed down extract). Where there are special requirements for either paper or electronic versions, Drew works with the faculty to satisfy the requirement in the best way. This could result in other requirements being postponed.

Report of Mona Mehdy on meeting with Nancy Elder, Life Sciences Library Head Librarian and bibliographer, Feb 13, 2002 to discuss library purchases and the impact of consortia.

The primary impact of consortia has been that the electronic journal packages licensed through consortia have added 700-900 journals over and above the collection of life sciences journals of 4 years ago. These additional journals are from mainstream publishers and many are valuable additions to our collection. For example, about 800 journals were cancelled over the past approximately past 15 years due to insufficient funding to cover inflation, not due to lack of faculty interest. As a result of consortial purchases, a number of these cancelled journals have been regained at no additional expense to the library.

The greater availability of journals and their easier access in electronic forms have been welcomed by faculty and students. Electronic access is strongly preferred. Faculty and students are asking for more electronic journals and more recently, electronic books. The choice of whether to purchase print or electronic access to journals is primarily influenced by cost. The less expensive form is purchased. If print and electronic access are comparably priced, the electronic form is purchased in keeping with faculty and student preferences for online journals.

The life sciences bibliographer collects faculty input on selection of new journals in a variety of ways which have not changed since the introduction of consortia. These include direct requests from faculty and graduate students, direct solicitation of faculty opinions, and the monitoring by bibliographer of the growth of new disciplines on the campus so that supporting library materials for these faculty can be obtained. Many factors are considered in new journal purchases including relevance to programs, cost, availability, faculty


requests, audience, funds available, etc. Availability through a consortial agreement is one of the factors but is not in itself a deciding factor When it has been necessary to cancel journals for budgetary reasons, faculty input and impact factors have been primary factors in deciding which journals to cut.

Since there has been no substantial budget increase beyond increases to cover inflation over the past approximately 15 years, there has been virtually no new monies for new journal subscriptions. The rate of inflation for scientific journals is typically higher than the rate of inflation in other disciplines so the participation of scientific publishers in consortia has been particularly valuable in maintaining and expanding content. New subscriptions have occurred almost entirely due to acquisitions through consortial packages as

described above. However, purchases outside of the consortium avenue routinely occur. Recently, UT-Austin negotiated a package with Allen Press representing smaller publications from societies that helped maintain subscriptions to these publications at a good price.

A good system of communication exists between the life sciences bibliographer and administrative staff involved in negotiating consortial arrangements. The packages have included many journals of relevance to the life sciences. The bibliographer has provided input on titles and databases. For example, UT-Austin's license involving the BIOSIS database was arranged to provide listings back to 1980, specifically at the request of the life sciences bibliographer. The bibliographer also provided input on journals to be included in the license with Allen Press.

This report was posted on the Faculty Council web site ( on March 5, 2002. Paper copies are available on request from the Office of the General Faculty, FAC 22, F9500.