FAQ About Collections Changes

In January 2022, Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewiecz announced the restoration of $2 million in recurring funding to the University Libraries budget following a previously announced reduction of $5 million. This is a welcome development. However, certain cuts and collection adjustments will remain unavoidable. 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

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

In January 2022, Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewiecz restored $2 million in recurring F&A (facilities and administrative, or overhead) funding to library collections. This is in addition to one-time contributions in FY 2021 and FY 2022 to help combat inflation.

The restored funding mitigates, but does not fully replace, cuts of $5 million announced in late 2021. In addition, the high cost and high rates of inflation for library materials continue to place pressure on the University Libraries’ budget.

Many journal and database contracts expired December 31. These cuts will go forward. The University Libraries will use the restored funding to offset cuts that would have taken place in FY 2022-23.

Since the Chancellor restored $2 million to the library budget, will you reinstate titles previously cut?

Thanks to these restored funds, we will cancel fewer resources than originally planned. However, the University Libraries must still manage a smaller collections budget overall, along with ongoing high cots and inflation for library materials.

Many journal and database contracts expired December 31. These cancellations will remain in effect. The University Libraries will use the restored funding to offset cuts that would have taken place in FY 2022-23, rather than reversing cuts already made and having to take deeper cuts next year.

In addition, resubscribing to cancelled or expired titles will involve a cost increase because we lost negotiating leverage and access to special rates. This will put additional burdens on the collections budget. We will monitor demand for resources and offer alternatives whenever we can.

Will you move forward with budget cuts in FY 22-23?

There will be cuts in FY23, but they will not be as extensive as first described. Although the Chancellor restored $2 million in recurring funding, this did not fully replace the amount cut. We will still face a shortfall in FY23 and subsequent years. In addition, annual inflation continues to reduce our purchasing power and forces us to make cuts every year. We annually review library collections to guide cancellation and acquisition decisions.

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.

How are decisions made about what to cut?

The Library makes decisions based on information about materials and their use. In prior journal cuts, input from faculty members about specific titles was heavily weighted. Although the Library still considers these perspectives, the extent of the cuts and constraints of our contracts limit our options. The Library additionally must consider the full range of scholarship and teaching across all disciplines so that none is disproportionately disadvantaged.

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.

More questions about library collections

Are there alternatives to cutting collections?

Like all units, the University Libraries has reduced programmatic operations such as travel, events, and supplies and has eliminated positions or left vacancies unfilled. Cutting library collections is the only path to reach such a significant budget target.

Was the University Libraries’ budget specifically targeted?

No. Cuts to the University Libraries budget reflect several factors. In January 2021, University leaders announced a plan to address budget challenges. The plan included reductions to both personnel and operating funds for all UNC-Chapel Hill units over two fiscal years. In addition, high costs and excessive year-to-year inflation in the price of scholarly journals are national trends that cut into purchasing every year.

We are grateful that the University was able to restore $2 million to the library budget. The University Libraries will do our part to meet campus budget goals and to combat publishing practices that squeeze library budgets.

Can endowments or other private funds be used for subscriptions?

The University Library already 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 must 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?

Unfortunately, budget reductions are only part of the picture. One reason journals have become so expensive is the high year-to-year inflation that publishers impose. Without a budget that reliably grows at the same pace, cancellations are the only tool available for libraries to contain inflationary costs.

One way to help manage the increasing costs of scholarly publishing over the long term is through open access publishing. Every member of the Carolina community can help make research publications more available and less costly. The University Libraries’ Sustainable Scholarship initiative encourages you to take action and help make research more sustainable, affordable, transparent and open.

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, 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.

How can I support and advocate for the University Libraries?

We have been moved and honored to hear from so many members of the Carolina community eager to help, support and advocate for the University Libraries.

Please visit Ways to Help for ideas and suggestions.

Last updated October 25, 2021