FAQ About Collections Changes

Updated Aug. 31, 2022

The University has restored funding previously cut from the University Libraries materials budget. However, certain cuts and collection adjustments remain necessary. This FAQ provides additional information about library collections at Carolina. Please send us a message about library collections using our collections feedback form. You may also reach out to your library subject liaison directly. 

About restored funding and cuts

What is the status of library funding at UNC-Chapel Hill?

The University has restored $3.7 million cut from the University Libraries materials budget starting in the FY 2022 budget. This $3.7 million is recurring funding and will be recurring funding moving forward

This reversal provides important funding for the University Libraries and will eliminate the need for additional cuts to book and journal purchases in the coming year.

With the restored funding, will you reinstate titles previously cut?

Thanks to these restored funds, we will cancel fewer resources than originally planned. However, it is not affordable to reinstate subscriptions that have been cancelled, for two main reasons.

First, many journal and database contracts expired last year and were not renewed due to announced cuts. Most publishers offer substantially discounted renewal pricing, but those special offers no longer apply. It is not affordable to restart expired subscriptions at much higher prices.

Second, inflation in the cost of licensing library materials has continued to grow. In 2021, the University announced that it would cut $5 million from library collections over two years. This target consisted of a $3.7 million budget reduction, plus cuts due to projected inflation. While the University restored cut funding beginning in FY22, inflation in the cost of library collections continues unabated and represents significant price increases. As it does every year, the University Libraries will have to subscribe to fewer titles to remain within budget.

How are decisions made about what to cut and what to restore?

The University Libraries makes decisions holistically, based on information about materials and their use. We additionally must provide for the full range of scholarship and teaching across all disciplines so that none is disproportionately disadvantaged.

How can I teach, research or provide patient care without the resources I need?

The University Libraries is committed to providing access to the resources you need for teaching, research and patient care at no charge to you. We have long provided Interlibrary loan services to borrow materials or obtain articles from other libraries. In 2020, the University Libraries joined a service that provides even faster access to articles from selected canceled journals. We are expanding this service in 2022 to cover additional titles. Researchers generally receive articles within hours.

What can I do if I can’t find what I need at the University Libraries?

Your subject liaison is your best source of information for alternatives or alternative forms of access to research publications. You can also try the following:

  • Install a browser plug-in to find open access articles. Browser extensions such as Open Access Button and Unpaywall are free and legal ways to locate open access literature.
  • Ask a colleague. Many researchers are happy to provide a copy of their articles upon request. Sites such as ResearchGate and Academia.edu facilitate legal scholarly sharing.
  • When Carolina’s libraries don’t have an item you need, we will get it for you at no cost to you through interlibrary loan services. You can frequently receive articles in as few as two to three hours.

About library collections

Can endowments or other private funds be used for subscriptions?

The University Library uses private funding to support collections. However, many endowments and gifts have very specific requirements for their use or are committed to other library programs and services.

Can the University Libraries cooperate with other libraries to purchase materials and lower costs?

The University Libraries has longstanding memberships in consortia that license library materials at more advantageous prices. Some of the most significant of these purchasing and licensing consortia are:

In addition, as members of organizations such as the Association of Research Libraries and SPARC, the University Libraries works closely with other research libraries on policy and innovation related to sustainable scholarship.

Can I help by donating my personal subscription or letting you leverage my association memberships?

While we appreciate the thought, there are significant differences between individual and library subscriptions. As a library, we pay fees for electronic books, journals and databases based on the size and research intensity of our campus. It would not be permissible for us to share your individual subscription with the campus.

Will there be additional cuts in the future?

One reason journals have become so expensive is the high year-to-year inflation that publishers impose. Annual cancellations are the only tool available for libraries to contain inflationary costs, even when the library budget remains steady from one year to the next.

What action can I take to help manage costs?

The most important way to manage the increasing costs of scholarly publishing over the long term is through open access publishing. The University Libraries is a leader in working with publishers to make open access publishing an option for authors at Carolina.

Every member of the Carolina community can play a role in these efforts. The University Libraries’ Sustainable Scholarship initiative encourages you to take action and help make research more sustainable, affordable, transparent and open.

Some of the most important things you can do are:

Take ownership of your scholarship by retaining copyright to your publications.

Publish in open access journals or deposit your research in an open access repository such as the Carolina Digital Repository.

Interrogate the tenure and promotion process that drives scholarly publishing.

Start conversations about open access, open science and open data in your departments, labs and working groups.

Review the scholarly publishing contracts for your association and consider transitioning your journal to open access.

Invite a librarian to speak to your department, lab, working group or class about sustainable scholarship.

How can I provide feedback about collections to the University Libraries?

The University Libraries wants to hear from you. Please send us a message using our collections feedback form. You may also reach out to your library subject liaison directly.

Last updated 8/26/22