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Decentralization of Serials Bu bkatz@COSY.UOGUELPH.CA 06 Apr 1991 23:26 UTC

Ann M. Tenglund at St. Bonaventure University asks about experience in
breaking apart a central serials allocation and re-distributing same among
the various academic departments.

At the University of Guelph Library we did this very thing about a year
ago.  We had a central serials renewal allocation, which was used for all
non-reference serials renewals that had been originally subscribed to be-
fore 1975/76.  In the latter year, new subscriptions became the responsi-
bility of the requesting departments' allocations (with some exceptions if
the title was very interdisciplinary).  There had been much discussion on
the idea of decentralizing the renewals "pot" over the years since 1976,
and after three subscription cancellation "projects" we had the data to be
able to do this.

The cancellation projects (the first one was in 1975/76 and the most recent
in 1987/88) called on the academic depts. to identify those titles which
supported their teaching and research programs.  Some titles, clearly, were
identified by more than one dept.  We were able to set up "apportionments"
between depts. for those titles, so that up to five depts. could "claim" a
title.  With the data in hand, refined by the successive rounds of cancel-
lations, we were reasonably confident that we knew exactly which depts.
should get their appropriate shares of the renewals allocation added to
their deptl. allocations.  We used the immediately preceding renewal cost
of the subscription as the amount to be transfered.

There was some concern among the faculty "reps" from the academic depts. as
to the effect this would have on their deptl. allocations once the next re-
newal period was in full force.  We have completed this period, and as all
on this list are aware, the cost of renewals has far exceded most reasonable
estimates!  As a result, some depts. were significantly overcommitted in
their deptl. allocations as soon as the renewals were attributed to them.
We are looking carefully at this situation, especially if the university's
administration will not be forthcoming with the necessary increase in the
acquisitions budget, in order to avoid yet another round of cancellations.

But the effect of the redistribution, even the impact as a result of renew-
als, had positive benefits.  For example, it is now *very* clear as to the
real costs of certain programs -- what is the cost of having a first rate
graduate program in physics or chemistry, for example.  The univ. admin.
can see this very clearly indeed, as the "cost" of doing "business"!  It's
also clear to everyone concerned, that the library's acquisitions budget
is disproportionally distributed as between discipline groups, compared to
what the older "book" portion (that which used to be allocated by academic
dept.) would have seemed to indicate.  The arts, humanities and even the
social science depts. are *NOT* receiving the same proportion of funding
for library allocations as are the various sciences, agriculture, vet.
medicine, etc.  This is a fact which has certain political implications
when it stands out so clearly!

I hope that these early impacts we have experienced will help your own
efforts.  As I imply, I think the excercise well worth while and I'm
sure that my colleagues here agree with me on this point.

Bernard Katz, Head, Humanities and Social Science Division
University of Guelph Library