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Libraries Plan Efficient Spending

By Laura L. Krug and William C. Marra, Crimson Staff Writerss

In the midst of lean financial times, the Harvard College Library will continue to make changes to increase fiscal efficiency, even as it maintains promising new Internet initiatives, library administrators told the Faculty Council yesterday.

Larsen Librarian of Harvard College Nancy M. Cline said efforts to stretch the library’s budget will be multi-pronged. “There’s not any single simple plan,” Cline said. “But we’re looking on many, many fronts: finding different ways of acquiring materials so we can keep some of our processing costs in balance, we’re looking at tougher negotiations on some vendor contracts, we’re looking for many ways of using the library resources budget as carefully as possible.”

Chair of the Standing Committee on Libraries Sidney Verba ’53, who reported to the Council with Cline, said one of the greatest strains on library funds is the high cost of scientific journals.

He said that approximately a year ago the library system took its first significant step to control journal spending by canceling a contract with a company that had provided over 1,000 journals.

“We had a contract with them which on the one hand was very favorable because you get a discount on it. But you have to buy the whole bundle of them, taking out of our hands the ability to choose what we wanted,” he said.

The library now only subscribes to some of those journals, and Verba said he expects more subscription cuts. However, he said the library does not cancel subscriptions easily, and only after consulting the Faculty.

In addition to discussing the high costs of journals to Harvard, Cline and Verba updated the Council on the library’s effort to make Harvard’s volumes available to other universities by digitally placing the text of books, journal articles, and other materials online.

“We would like students [at other universities] to do what a Harvard undergraduate can do by going into Widener,” Verba said.

So far, the year-and-a-half-old project has placed approximately 1,800 books and other documents pertaining to the topic “Working Women” online for use at other universities, with a plan to add more topics in the future.

Verba and Cline will present a similar presentation to the entire Faculty at next Tuesday’s Faculty meeting.

—Staff writer Laura L. Krug can be reached at krug@fas.harvard.edu. —Staff writer William C. Marra can be reached at wmarra@fas.harvard.edu.

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