The committee met twice in the fall of 2010 and twice in the spring of 2011. A focus of all meetings was the exchange of information between the UT libraries administrative staff and faculty members. Over the course of several meetings, the administrative staff described the difficult budget situation facing the University and the libraries, presented plans for addressing immediate challenges, and reviewed strategic plans the staff have initiated in order to position the libraries to cope with demands expected over the next five years.
Budget matters were among the foremost issues addressed with the committee. Vice Provost and Director of Libraries Fred Heath provided several updates on the libraries’ budget outlook, describing long-term planning and restructuring efforts that were begun in 2009, the reductions that will be required to meet the recent and projected rescissions in state funding, and the University’s forecast of a flat budget through 2015. The identification of $3.5 million in cuts was accomplished by reduction of library services and the elimination of sixty staff positions. Those efforts, combined with direct budgetary support from the University administration to help meet the inflationary costs of scholarly publications, allowed the University libraries to maintain their traditional core strengths in support of the University’s mission.
Annual increases in the cost of materials, especially electronic subscriptions, present a continuing financial challenge. Associate Director for Research Dennis Dillon provided an overview description of the libraries’ serials subscriptions and explained that for the past two decades, the cost of these subscriptions has increased approximately seven percent annually. This has an enormous impact on a collection of the size UT maintains. The support provided by the University administration in this and recent years was essential for the continued health of our libraries. In April, the committee sent a letter to President Powers acknowledging its appreciation of the administration’s move to meet the inflationary costs of scholarly publications and expressing a renewed commitment to work with libraries to maximize efficiency and effectiveness in the coming years. The UT libraries’ administration and staff have initiated a long-term strategic planning process designed to address critical issues facing the libraries over the next five years. The committee members expressed their desire to work with the libraries’ administration in the implementation of the strategic plan.
Christopher J. Bell, chair