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University of Montana's library adjusts to 2021 budget constraints

University of Montana Campus
Posted at 11:50 AM, Jan 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-31 13:50:29-05

MISSOULA — January marks the start of a new fiscal year at the University of Montana, and the Maureen & Mike Mansfield Library faces a reduced budget.

Many academic units faced tightened budgets this year, based on enrollment numbers and state allocated resources.

Tough decisions had to be made at the library to address a reduced 2021 budget.

This led to the cancellation of just over 4,000 academic journal subscriptions.

Students, faculty, and staff access these journals for the latest findings in their academic field.

“We had avoided doing that for a while, but that’s what we had to do this year. About two thirds of our collections budget is tied up in those big bundles of journals,” said Mansfield Library Dean Barry Brown.

Brown said it’s hard for many universities to maintain the expenses of library collections, and this reduction will save about $500,000 annually.

“There’s inflationary rises in those costs. Similar, you know, to electricity, water, heat — the library really is, you know, like a utility and part of the basic infrastructure. But it is a challenge to met those rising costs,” he said.

Graduate student Doug Cook tells MTN News research is what attracted him to UM.

“I’m really interested in research. It’s what I want to do after this, and so having access to research sources was [and] is a critical part of why I’m here,” Cook said.

Cook said conversations with UM leadership helped him understand budget constraints, but he remains worried about the cuts.

“It gives me a lot of concern about the future of our university and how viable we can be if we can’t continue to pursue recent research and attract outstanding students, faculty, and staff,” Cook said.

The Mansfield Library says it’s working with administrators to find solutions for a predictable budget, and articles from canceled journals can still be obtained through the Interlibrary Loan program.