From our Library Advisory Board

by Paul Overend, Customer Service Manager
Library Bulletin, Winter 2016

In November, our Library Advisory Board met at Charleston. As our members are in institutions as far apart as the US and India, time zones have always made the timing of meetings difficult.  We raised the idea of forming sub-groups in Europe and the US to avoid time zone issues. A European group would also potentially be able to meet face to face at events like UKSG, with a US Group at ALA or Charleston.


We need to broaden membership in order for such groups to work, so if you are interested in joining either the US or European Group please let us know by mailing

Textbook acquisition

We asked our board how textbooks fitted into the library supply service. Students definitely see libraries as a provider of textbooks, as these are so costly – particularly in the U.S. Karin Byström (Uppsala University Library) said this was the case in Scandinavia too. Our Board felt that overall the provision or purchase of an LMS (Learning Management System) was outside their remit, so for example Syracuse will not purchase an LMS, but will acquire e-textbooks and traditional textbooks in accordance with Faculty recommendations.  Our board members noted that undergraduates tend to prefer “real” textbooks, especially in sciences (this fits with PCG’s recent research on the reading habits of Millenials) but like eBooks as an option, and like supplementary material in e-format.

Library Budgets

It was interesting to hear our Board’s views in the light of the PCG Survey on Library Budgets, carried out in Spring 2015. In the U.S., overall budgets are down by 3%. Budgets are up by just 1% in the UK, but 12% in Japan. Karin Byström said that in Sweden there has been just a 0.8% increase in the humanities. The Forex rate makes it harder for Europeans to buy US content or media. At Uppsala there has been some reorganisation to make the most of dwindling budgets, and they will have to cancel a number of planned acquisitions in humanities and social sciences. Collections budgets are tied to the number of students in each discipline and student numbers are themselves capped. In the US increases have been consistent so there has been no need to cancel acquisition programmes, but staffing is a real problem due to recruitment freezes and early retirement becoming the norm. A lot of content has been digitised. Libraries need collection MARC records and will buy collections rather than individually selected titles. Increasingly platforms, incl. aggregators, have to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act – this could be a deal breaker in terms of which platform / aggregator to recommend.

Our Next Survey will focus on Open Access, and we are tentatively planning an OA-themed webinar with a guest speaker or speakers in Spring. This would be open to all, but numbers would be limited – if you are interested in attending, please mail – no commitment is required at this stage.

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