Budget Challenges

Like many other academic research libraries, the UCSB Library faces multiple challenges in the effort to build collections and provide access to information resources needed to support the diverse programs of research and teaching on our campus.

  • Prices for scholarly journals have been rising on average about 6 percent annually, and for academic books, about 4.5 percent annually–well above the rate of inflation in the general economy.

  • Because of the challenging economic environment of the past decade, and especially following the global recession of 2007-2009, the collections budgets of many research libraries have failed to keep up with the demands of the academic information marketplace.  At UCSB, with a collections budget that has remained flat for nearly a decade, the library's purchasing power for information resources has been deeply eroded because of the cumulative effects of inflation.

  • We continue to see the effects of the scholarly communication crisis.  Journals published by small presses or scholarly societies continue to be taken over by the largest commercial academic publishers, and when this happens, their prices typically double or even triple, putting additional pressure on finite library budgets.  A further indication of consolidation within the academic information marketplace is that the three largest publishers (Elsevier, Springer, and Wiley) together now account for a third of the entire UCSB Library collections budget.

  • Journal subscriptions can be surprisingly expensive.  Here are a few sample titles from the current subscriptions of the UCSB Library:


    Journal Title
    Annual Cost to UCSB Library
    British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies $713
    Cognitive Linguistics $757
    American Economic Review $922
    The American Journal of Psychiatry $976
    Chinese Studies in History $1,070
    Journal of Environmental Pathology, Toxicology, and Oncology $1,095
    Journal of Neurophysiology $1,695
    International Materials Reviews $1,946
    Genes & Development $2,060
    Biological Chemistry $2,466
    Botanica Marina $2,219
    Materials Science and Technology $2,958
    International Mathematics Research Notices $4,096
    The Journal of Adhesion $4,610
    Modern Physics Letters $8,953
    International Journal of Modern Physics $15,228
  • The volume of scholarly publishing worldwide continues to increase rapidly, as academic publishers develop a proliferation of costly new journals and online research databases.
  • As part of the University of California, UCSB participates in subscriptions for research databases, journals, and ebook packages negotiated on behalf of the UC campuses by the California Digital Library (CDL).  While these CDL-licensed resources are highly cost effective for UCSB and greatly extend our access to a broad and diverse array of academic information resources, it is a common misconception that they are available to our campus at no cost. In fact, for the great majority of CDL resources, we pay a share of the subscription cost, along with the other participating campuses, and annual increases in these costs must be covered out of our collections budget.  This greatly limits our ability to add new CDL resources.
  • We have developed various management strategies to maximize the value of our limited collections budget.  These include cancelling print journals that the library also subscribes to online and offsetting the cost of new journal subscriptions by cancelling others of equivalent value that are less needed to support campus research and teaching.  Although we continue to use these and other strategies, the benefits they yield will diminish over time as the effects of inflation compound and the budget becomes increasingly unsustainable.  For more information see the Collection Budget Strategies page.