Even with extra funds, MU's libraries could face deficit

Thursday, December 13, 2007 | 6:38 p.m. CST; updated 7:20 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

COLUMBIA — MU administrators have committed $600,000 to shore up the acquisition of books and journals, but that may not be enough to cover the budget shortfall expected by MU Libraries next fiscal year.

The funding, approved in November by MU Chancellor Brady Deaton and Provost Brian Foster, is aimed at covering the libraries’ projected deficit of about $600,000, based on a 7 percent increase in inflation, said Jim Cogswell, director of libraries. But according to recent projections from Swets, a journal vendor for the libraries, the cost of some materials could rise as much as 10 percent next year, Cogswell said.

“As grateful as we are for this ($600,000), it plugs a hole, and the hole keeps getting bigger,” Cogswell said. “We can’t be precise in projecting the shortfall. We won’t know, and yet, we don’t have any choice but to plan.”

Provost Brian Foster said the $600,000 for fiscal year 2009, which begins July 1, 2008, is part of MU’s overall budget plan. He said it wasn’t hard to decide that funding libraries is a high priority.

“(The library) is an indispensable resource, and the impact of the library reducing monograph collections or periodicals really impairs research and instruction, especially at the higher levels,” Foster said. “We don’t have the choice not to support it because it’s central to our mission.”

Cogswell said the libraries’ budget problems underscore the need for a long-term plan to address the ongoing increases in the cost of books and journals. With state funding never assured from year to year, linking the libraries’ budget to student enrollment and grant awards could provide supplemental revenue. “We haven’t had a good method for meeting those cost-drivers in our current budget model,” he said.

To save money during the current fiscal year, MU Libraries has reduced by about 30 percent the books purchased automatically from scholarly publishers through an outside vendor. While that will save about $200,000, Cogswell said, which will be applied to the fiscal year 2009 budget, some books won’t be available until the new funds come in. Journals and online databases are not affected by the reduction.

Cogswell said he expects to have a better idea of how well this approach is working and how much money could be deferred to the 2009 budget once vendor invoices start arriving in January.

Both Foster and Cogswell say that faculty and staff have let them know that decreased funding for MU Libraries would create problems across the campus. Cogswell said his department’s budget problems have been met with much sympathy. “People’s hearts are in the right place,” he said, “but really what’s needed is to have their pocketbooks in the right place.”

As part of MU’s $1 billion “For All We Call Mizzou” fundraising campaign, MU Libraries has set a goal of $8 million to endow book funds and build new facilities. As of Nov. 30, MU Libraries has raised almost $7.4 million, according to a report compiled earlier this month on the “For All We Call Mizzou” Web site. Cogswell said he expects donations to exceed the $8 million mark when the campaign closes next December.

While it’s probable that the publicity of the libraries’ budget shortfall has resulted in some donations toward the campaign, it’s almost impossible to determine a direct cause-and-effect relationship between them, said Gena Scott, director of development for MU Libraries.

“We were already in this campaign, so the gifts we’re getting are the fruits of our labor over the past few years,” she said.

For links to budget information, or to give to MU Libraries, go to

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