Library strained to compensate for OhioLink cuts

Natalie Pillsbury

Ohio’s online library consortium, OhioLink, received about $1 million less funding for the 2005-2006 fiscal year.

There are currently 85 Ohio colleges and universities comprising the OhioLink consortium, which serves more than 600,000 students, faculty and staff.

These cuts will result in reduction of existing scholarly resources, according to OhioLink Snapshot 2004.

“It’s a balancing act,” said Joseph Salem, coordinator of government documents and head of the map library. “Because of budget cuts, we may have to cut three to five databases for this year. But some departments have to have certain journals to maintain accreditation.”

This year, OhioLink will reduce the number of titles available in the Electronic Journal Center. The titles chosen for elimination are the least used titles across the OhioLink community and reflect all academic disciplines. Articles from the cut journals comprise 4 percent of total annual downloads.

“There may be only 30 students who use a database, but they really use it,” Salem said. “It is essential to their program.”

Kent State may pick up the tab in order to keep certain journals cut by OhioLink, but this will result in less money in other areas such as purchasing books, Salem said.

If the university wants to keep certain databases that are cut by OhioLink, the funding may come from a collection’s budget that if not increased will be running a deficit in the 2006 fiscal year, according to Mark Weber, dean of Libraries and Media Services.

“We will have difficulty maintaining all current database licenses and journal subscriptions,” Weber said. “Having to pick up additional databases cut by OhioLink places even more of a strain on our collections budget.”

The OhioLink budget has been cut over the past 10 years, which has meant that libraries have had to pick up more of the costs.

“This year we made cuts in the fall in a faculty reorganization,” Weber said. “We eliminated two administrative positions. The positions were vacant and we elected not to fill them.”

In order to save money and compensate for cuts, the library has cut 46 percent of library civil service staff and 50 percent of library faculty during the past 10 years, Weber said.

“Instead of each university library negotiating with huge vendors,” Salem said, “they go as one group that has the buying power of all 85 institutions.”

This collaboration has reduced costs and allowed purchases of more scholarly materials that can be used widely across the state.

“We have a mission to tie all libraries together,” Salem said. “You only have to wait three to five days, and you have access to materials from 85 libraries.”

OhioLink is the only consortium of its kind in the region, and neighboring states also depend on OhioLink resources.

“I think we take (OhioLink) for granted, “Salem said. “I talk to my colleagues from other states, and they are all jealous. A few states have modeled us, but Ohio has been creative in stretching the education budget in order to get the most out of it. ”

Contact Libraries and Information reporter Natalie Pillsbury at [email protected].