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Release: April 8, 1999

UI Libraries set to cancel 600 serials in $415,000 cost-savings measure

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Libraries announced today that it has identified more than 600 titles for cancellation under the Year 2000 Serials Cancellation Project, a $415,000 cost-cutting effort designed to close the gap between the Libraries' acquisitions budget and the continuing rise in cost of serials and materials.

The journal cancellations begin January 2000 and will affect the academic programs and departments in all Colleges except Law; the law library is administered independently. The Libraries had expected to trim $440,000 from its budget, but the process of identifying the titles, coupled with the targeted amount, was not precise, said Ed Shreeves, director of collections and information resources. Shreeves said he is satisfied with the 94 percent cost-reduction.

The Libraries is allowing UI faculty, students and staff five additional weeks to review the selected titles and to make a case against a title's cancellation.

"We want the campus community to look at the list that's available for viewing on our Web site and voice their concerns about a particular title. We can't promise in every case that we won't cancel a title, but if a person's objections were good enough, we'd look for alternatives to canceling, the publication, " Shreeves said.

Joseph Frankel, biological sciences professor who serves as chairman of the biological sciences departmental library committee, said he tried to take the most specialized journals that were among the least used and marked them for cancellation. The $30,000 worth of cancellations, which include 22 titles cut from the biology and 19 from the botany collections, will have a significant effect on the department's 35 actively teaching professors.

"It makes accessing information contained in those journals difficult, but we can still get them through interlibrary loan. It (cancellations) will cause significant damage now, but if we were forced to do it again, the damage would be intolerable."

"We cannot tolerate another cancellation. (My) department can barely manage to function with this cut. Our mission will be severely impaired if we go through another one. This has to stop," Frankel said.

The impending cancellations mark the fourth such effort to reduce the Libraries' acquisition budget. In 1991, 1994 and 1996 the UI eliminated journals costing over $490,000 at the time of cancellation. Shreeves says the Libraries estimates that had those subscriptions been maintained, their cost today would be nearly $800,000, approximately 13 percent of the total Libraries budget.

The Libraries' acquisitions budget has increased 36 percent between 1994 and 1998, but the costs of scholarly journals, particularly in the medical, scientific and medical fields, have exceeded budget increases. The average cost of a journal purchased by research libraries across all fields has risen nearly 56 percent since 1994, Shreeves says. Additionally, in fields such as biology, costs have risen 60 percent; engineering 66 percent; and technology 69 percent.

"The effect of price increases that outpace budget increases is a severe imbalance in the overall acquisitions effort that threatens support to the full-range of university subjects and programs," Shreeves said.

Shreeves said that librarians, working with faculty from various UI departments, spent six months--dating back to last fall--identifying journals to be cancelled. In a letter to UI faculty, students and staff explaining the impending cancellations, Shreeves said librarians considered various cancellation factors, such as how often UI faculty were cited and published in particular journals, a journal's price history, availability from other sources, and usage by UI faculty, students and staff.

The titles on the cancellation list are viewable on the Web and are arranged alphabetically and by broad subject categories. The list includes title, publisher, price, campus location, its availability at the University of Northern Iowa, Iowa State University and from the Committee on Institutional Cooperation libraries. The site also includes a section of frequently asked questions, additional information about costs, and links to cancellation projects at other institutions.

The list is available at

For more information about the Year 2000 Cancellation Project, call Ed Shreeves, director of collections and information resources at 335-5871.