Proposed UNCG Libraries Collections Budget Changes for 2020/21

Overall Context

Like other campus units, the Libraries are experiencing budget reductions. ALL of the UNCG Libraries' 2020/21 budget cuts are being taken from travel, equipment, furniture, supplies, and other operating budget lines, and through the potential elimination of library positions that are not currently filled. NONE of the cuts are being applied to the collections budget, which is being funded at exactly the same level ($4,045,762) as the previous year. However, because we do not have new money to add to the collections budget, we unfortunately need to cut about $130,000 in order to cover projected inflationary increases. It seems likely that we will see another round of similar or larger collections cuts next year, in 2021/22.

Summary of proposed cuts for 2020/21

Our collections budget has three major components. All will be affected by the budget reductions.

  • Books

    We plan to reduce departmental book budgets by 25% and approval plans by 50%. We will maintain our evidence based book purchasing programs at their current levels. Although we are reducing the book budget, we anticipate that improved efficiencies will allow us to add a similar number of new book titles (and likely even more) than we added last year. Because of the pandemic and the emphasis on remote learning, we plan to prioritize ebook over print purchasing whenever feasible.
    More detailed information on proposed changes to the book budget

  • Journals, magazines, and other continuing subscriptions

    We plan to cancel all our subscriptions to legacy formats, including print journals, print standing orders, and microfilm. We also plan to cancel one of our smaller ejournal "big deals" and several dozen ejournal subscriptions. For some journals that we cancel, we will retain access to current issues through other formats and/or platforms. For canceled titles for which we have no alternative current access, Interlibrary Loan can typically obtain articles for UNCG students and faculty within 4-5 days. Despite the proposed cancellations, UNCG will maintain subscriptions to over 14,000 journals. And the total number of active subscriptions is more likely to increase than decrease in 2020/21.
    More detailed information on proposed changes to the serials budget

  • Databases

    The University Libraries provides access to over 600 databases and other electronic resources. Of the three areas (books, journals, and databases) this is the only one for which Interlibrary Loan may not be able to provide consistent alternative access in the event of cancellation. And of the three areas, this is the only one to be 100% online and accessible from off campus. In 2020/21, we will see a modest decrease in our database subscriptions.
    More detailed information on proposed changes to the databases budget

Opportunities for Suggesting New Subscriptions or Purchases

  • Subscriptions

    Most journals and electronic databases are subscriptions. Within a static or declining collections budget, the only way we can add new ongoing subscriptions is to cancel existing subscriptions with a similar cost. Within that context, if you feel that a particular new subscription is absolutely vital to UNCG's success, please talk to your library liaison.

  • One-time purchases

    Money sometimes becomes available for one-time purchases at the very end of a fiscal year. Because at that point we have little time to spend the money and no time to receive physical items, we need to purchase one-time electronic resources - primarily journal backfiles, or databases of primary source material or other historical content. The availability of this money varies unpredictably from year to year, but we always want to have a prioritized list of potential purchases ready, just in case. Your suggestions for one-time purchases are welcome at any time! Please contact your library liaison.

Comments and Feedback

By assigning all budget cuts to other areas within the library, the UNCG Libraries have made collections their top spending priority for 2020/21. Nonetheless, we must make cuts in order to fund inflationary collections increases. This draft collections cuts proposal makes every effort to minimize the impact of these reductions. The Libraries will continue to provide access to the vast majority of journals, databases, and other resources and our collections will continue to grow. If you have questions or concerns about the context or details of these proposed collection budget reductions, please send comments to Tim Bucknall (, Assistant Dean for University Libraries.