Serials reductions as part of the life cycle

photo: stack of journals
Journals in the Romance languages in Doe Library’s Heyns Reading Room.

You need not fret about L’Infiniti, Écrits de Paris, Revue des deux mondes, Revue des études Italiennes, Revista de occidente, Claves de razón práctica, El Mediterráneo, Atena, MicroMega, Humanitas, Europe, Misure critiche, Commentaire, Nuova antologia, Il Mulino, and many more journals in the Southern European collection. These have evaded cancellation for now in the second year of a two-year planned reduction of UC Berkeley Library’s acquisitions and licensing budget.

This week, the Library has shared with the campus via CALmessages a complete list of proposed serials cancellations for public comment until May 12. For 2023/24, the budget for recurring annual costs such as subscription databases, journal subscriptions, ebook and journal packages will be reduced by $850K. The Arts and Humanities portion of the serials reduction came to about $165,000. Much of this was met through a renegotiation of the price share for a statewide Taylor & Francis journal package that met about $65,000 of our target. The remaining $100,000 came from the subject funds. (For Latin American and Caribbean Studies, please scroll down to the Social Sciences grouping.)

The proposed list of cancellations was developed to minimize the impact on the community by focusing on duplicative subscriptions; journals and databases that are available open access or in other ways; and the most seldomly accessed journals and databases. Together, subject librarians have reviewed all subscriptions and prioritized retaining titles based on strength of need and available alternatives for access. Across disciplines, the total number of titles came to 1,204 which includes large packages. These ranged from very cheap (Annali di statistica @ $9.67/year) to exorbitant (Greenwire for $17,544/year).

These exercises are never easy but have become a regular part of the scholarly resources life cycle as academic libraries continue to endure rapidly declining budgets for an expanding terrain of expensive intellectual materials in both print and digital formats. The last serials reduction was in 2018 in the amount of $1.5M. At the beginning of this year, the Library reduced its discretionary budget (mostly for books) by $850K and two years earlier by $1M.

Including our recent reductions in 2018 and 2020, this year’s serials reduction will bring the total annual reduction in acquisitions and licensing to $4.425 million – an approximately 35% reduction of campus, state, and unrestricted funding for collections since 2016. Without an influx of funding from the campus and the state, the UC Berkeley Library can expect to see another round of budget cuts in the near future.

For the month of April, I will be posting on Instagram nearly every day the cover of  a different journal in the Romance languages that we are retaining access to for now in either print or digital form.