Library Efficiencies

Case study


With a combined Fiscal Year 2009‐2010 budget of $244 million,
the University’s ten campus libraries and systemwide California
Digital Library (CDL) are at a watershed. Campus library
funding cuts have averaged around 20% since Fiscal Year 2008‐
2009, and the cost of library materials continues to outpace
inflation, further increasing budgetary pressures. Expansion in
academic and research programs continues to increase
demand for library collection growth in all formats, and
students continue to demand long hours and extended access
to library facilities that provide technologically well‐equipped
and flexible learning environments. Constrained capital
budgets put space allocation pressure on libraries, some of
which occupy buildings in prime campus locations. Finally, the
shift to digital materials requires new strategies for ensuring
access to the information required to support UC’s mission.


Building on a long history of resource‐sharing and consolidated
or coordinated service development, the UC libraries began a
new phase of strategic planning in 2008‐2009 to identify
additional innovative, systemwide strategies to mitigate cuts,
while reframing library services that support institutional
missions and goals. In support, the Provost‐appointed
Systemwide Library and Scholarly Information Advisory
Committee (SLASIAC) convened a task force in Fall 2010 to help
set context, direction, priorities, and goals.


For more than a decade, library resource‐sharing has been
facilitated by a number of services managed on a systemwide
basis. Particular success has been achieved in licensing
electronic journals, databases, and books on a systemwide
basis using rigorous cost/benefit analyses; provision by CDL of
shared technologies that support management and use of
print and digital resources; efficient delivery of print materials
among campuses; provision of shared digital reference
services; shared high‐density storage facilities; and digital
conversion of (and online access to) 3 million+ monographs.


Budgets must be rebalanced to support new format and
service expectations. Business and administrative policies and
systems are not optimized for systemwide collaboration;
sustainable funding models do not yet exist for processing and
managing shared resources and services, and existing
behaviors and expectations do not foster innovation or
encourage well‐founded risk‐taking. Trusting relationships
must be established and sustained among all parties to permit
reliance on external partners to provide essential services. Furthermore, intellectual property issues for digital resources
remain unsettled.

Initial Investment

Start‐up loan funding may be required for systems that will
achieve additional efficiencies and for transition costs to
support the reduction of the physical footprint for collections.

Fiscal Results, Current and Anticipated

Through historic systemwide actions, the libraries avoid up to
$100 million per year in costs that they would incur if they
were to attempt to achieve the same level of service acting
independently. Further efficiencies in capital and operating
costs are expected from this most recent round of strategic
planning, but it is premature to estimate scale.

Current Action and Next Steps

The SLASIAC task force will present initial findings in December
2010 recommending systemwide strategies and investments
that the University needs to pursue to achieve efficiencies in
library operations. The libraries and the task force are
currently examining further efficiencies in capital and
operating costs through:

  1. Leveraging digital access and fostering external
    collaborations to reduce the costs of acquiring and
    managing redundant print collections. To this end, the
    libraries have endorsed the goal of developing the
    University of California Library Collection that comprises
    all print and digital formats, and are leading a grantfunded
    initiative, the Western Regional Storage Trust
    (WEST), involving dozens of regional libraries to establish
    trusted shared print journal archives;
  2. Greater consolidation of library services. The libraries
    have launched the Next Generation Technical Services
    initiative that seeks to consolidate, streamline, or
    outsource common processing functions in order to
    develop a single systemwide enterprise for acquiring and
    processing collections;
  3. Greater coordination in collection development; and
  4. Greater reliance on open‐access materials to reduce
    expenditure on high‐priced serial publications.

Concluding Statement

The UC libraries have been national and international leaders
in developing new licensing approaches, supporting scholarly
communication initiatives, and pioneering practical solutions
for digital preservation. Building on their collective 30‐year
history of successful collaboration, the UC libraries are wellpositioned
to achieve the next level of collaborative service
while continuing to ensure that the UC community has access
to the most relevant array of world‐class information sources
in support of the research, teaching, and public service mission
of UC.