Doing More With Less

These days everybody is trying to do more with less money.  Although this is usually viewed negatively and most often discussed as budgets shrink, the concept of doing more for less or getting the best bang for your budget really shouldn’t be thought of in a negative light.   In lean times it can help keep or maintain some programs, resources and services.  In prosperous times (when we don’t often talk about this topic) it often means having the ability to purchase something extra.  

In my previous posts I mentioned the various publishers who were freezing or lowering their 2010 subscription costs.  With the advent of the Internet and the electronic journal there are a whole host of ways to get creative and try and save money on your journal budget.  Saving money on journals doesn’t always mean cutting the journal collection.  Some publisher’s offer cheaper subscription costs for online only access.  It is also important to take into account the other “hidden factors” in your journal collection.  One publisher’s online only journals might be more expensive than the printed version, but you don’t have to spend time (salary dollars) checking in the journal, you don’t have to spend time and money on binding, you don’t have to worry about theft, and your usage statistics are easily collected online.  The cost of a printed journal is more expense than the subscription.  It is also probably extremely helpful to invest in an A-Z product through a company like Serials Solutions or EBSCO.  These products are relatively inexpensive for the amount of time they save maintaining the online links to journals, collecting and providing usage statistics.  Now it sounds funny to say spend money to save money, but an A-Z service can also help you better determine your electronic journal collection overlap.  Why pay for something when you are getting it from other sources or packages? 

There are all sort of other ways to save and get the most for your library dollars.  One of the librarians at my institution has submitted the abstract to a poster for Midwest MLA detailing how she has saved the library approximately $5,000/year by actively requesting for a donated copy of each new book authored or edited by our institutional authors.  Right now about 50% of the institution’s staff authors donate a copy of their book to the library.  Think of the savings if she were to get the donation rate even higher.  The librarian also discovered other ways to save money through other types of book donations and by negotiating with publishers.  I don’t want to steal her thunder so if/when her abstract is accepted I will link out to it and her poster.

Of course these budget issues are hitting more than just the academic medical and the hospital library world.  The recently released study (July 15, 2009) Ithaka Case Studies in Sustainability project is a multi-year, international exploration of the strategies being used to support digital initiatives over the long term.  Twelve cases are presented with special attention to cost management strategies.  Some of the studies are from groups and projects outside of the United States and some are humanities based. 

There are those in the medical library world who are looking at ways to save money or creating lists of companies with more favorable pricing and conditions.  As I mentioned in an earlier posts, MLA’s Scholarly Communications Committee is creating a list of STM publishers who have frozen or decreased their 2010 subscription prices.  Mark Funk, previous MLA president is also looking at innovative ways medical librarians are using to save money and fund resources and services.  Recently he sent a post to MEDLIB asking for suggestions (re-posted with permission below).

I will be speaking at the UNYOC Chapter meeting in October on collection development in times of diminishing budgets. Oh sure, I have some things I do to deal with budget issues, but that won’t fill up 40 minutes. And most of them only work for academic medical libraries. So I’m asking the medical library community to send me the things you are now doing to deal with a diminished budget to my blog.

I will put the best suggestions into my presentation, and make the presentation available for everyone. So consider this a joint cooperative publication, with me as the editor. I suspect that many of us are doing the same things, but I will identify interesting techniques with your name, if you allow me.

Please post your techniques, even if they seem obvious to you. Here’s what I’m doing (although some pre-date the current economic situation):

  • Join consortia (lowers pricing, saves on negotiation time.)
  • Partner with the main library (our annual share of the Springer ebook package  is less than what we used to pay for print Springer books from our  approval plan, and we get tons more.)
  • Substitute free “lite” versions for little used paid databases (AGELINE, AGRICOLA.)
  • Use those cancellation privileges in your big deal (every $100 helps. /sarcasm)
  • Go e-only whenever possible (although sometimes this is more costly, watch out.)
  • Cancel the approval plan.
Come on, show the world your brilliant idea. Let me know if I can credit your idea. I’ve already received some excellent ideas; please keep them coming.


So what are you doing in your library?  How are you doing more (or the same) with less money.  have you cut things or have you been more judicious in your selection process?  Let Mark know and feel free to also leave a comment.  I think we all can learn a few new tricks.

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