Summary of Binding alternatives Kathi Jakubowski 07 May 2009 15:58 UTC

Thank you to those of you who responded to my request for coping with
binding budget reductions. I will try to summarize from the responses I

Two libraries that responded have gone through fairly recent binding
reductions. One library in particular had an 80% decrease in their
budget in the past 2 years. That library lost one binding position, and
the other person who handled bindery now checks in journals and serials,
is being trained in ordering, receiving and cataloging them and does
bindery in her "spare time."

1. The most obvious option, used by many of us already, is to stop
binding print journals if reliable access is available online (JSTOR,
Project Muse, etc.). One library added that reliable e-access is not
just through a database, but with the ability to read/browse an entire
issue. Their policy meant no more paper Elsevier, Springer, Wiley, etc.
titles, which covered a lot of what they had been binding. Also consider
cancelling the print version in favor of electronic only access. (At
UW-Milwaukee, we no longer bind our JSTOR titles for which we have
current subscriptions. We keep the loose issues that are not yet
available online in our Current Periodicals Room until they are
accessible online, at which point we withdraw the loose issues. They
take up more shelf space in Current Periodicals, but do not require
barcoding and labelling, saving some staff processing time.)

2. When possible, increase the number of issues bound together, up to 2"
in thickness, whenever possible. (At UW-Milwaukee, our binding
supervisor has already begun doing this, with an eye to cutting binding

3. Re-evaluate binding free titles. Are they worth the staff time and
cost to process? (We are beginning an aggressive effort to identify free
titles that have low usage, unreliable receipt, etc., with the objective
of cancelling/withdrawing them).

4. Consider not binding semi-annuals or quarterlies that are squat and
thick enough to stand on the shelf. These would probably need item
records and call number labels, and in some cases may need to be boxed
or put in Princeton files (staff time and material costs should be
considered/factored in here). One library estimated that putting more
loose issues in the stacks would require between 5,000 to 6,000
additional barcodes a year. Also consult/communicate with your
Circulation staff, because they will have to deal with the increase in
loose issues in the stacks. (At UW-Milwaukee, our binding supervisor and
I recently did a shelf-by-shelf tour of our Current Periodicals Room,
identifying titles that we might consider no longer binding. We found a
number of titles that we will eventually forward to our Collection
Management Team to evaluate for retention/binding.)

5. Cancellation projects. If your library is undergoing a major serials
cancellation project, don't forget to factor in the cost savings from no
longer having to bind the titles being cancelled.

6. Plan to rely on ILL more for titles. Consider "pay by the drink" as a
means of saving on journal subscription and binding costs. However, also
realize you will have a rise in labor and other costs in this area, so
the savings you will have from cancellations may be partly offset here.

7. Finally, remember to look at the big picture when planning any
binding reduction. Savings in one area may increase costs in another.

I also received a document from the Carleton College Library, which
underwent a binding budget reduction of 29% several years ago. It's a
well thought out and organized document, and may be useful to other
libraries facing a similar situation. If you are interested in a copy of
the document, please contact me directly, and I will forward you a copy.
Special thanks go to the primary author of the document, Carol Eyler,
and to Carol Thunem, who also adds the following comments regarding
their document:
"We regret that the document has not been updated since 2005, but all
the strategies listed are currently in place. This document was made
available to Serialst listserve in October 2005, and is mentioned in an
article, "Binding dilemma: Changing horses mid stream—Or why we stopped
binding periodicals at HKBU," in the v.31:2, June 2007, issue of
"Library Collections, Acquisitions, and Technical Services." The article
includes strategies used at Hong Kong Baptist University Library and
mentions other ideas implemented at other institutions. You might find
it interesting as well!"

I hope this information proves helpful to those of you facing similar
budget reductions.

Kathi Jakubowski

Kathi L. Jakubowski
Head Serials Cataloger
UWM Libraries
2311 E. Hartford Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53211