A thought on collection cuts

This post is about library budget cuts – specifically cuts that decimate our collections budgets. We all face them. They are heartbreaking. Ultimately, collections cuts (as with many other library budget cuts) ask us to select the least bad of an array of options that all cause serious harm to some or all of our user population.

Most decisions about which resources to cut are accomplished by (painfully, rigorously) considering a number of criteria: cost savings, how heavily the resource is used, whether it is used by central (for mission-critical and/or political values of “central”) portions of the user population, whether it is central to our institutional or organizational identity, whether there are alternative services, and a host of others. If it is not already part of your criteria for collections cuts, I’d like to suggest one more:

whether and/or how much this resource restricts the rights of our users.

We all know we’re going to take criticism for whatever cuts we make – just about any service we currently provide is a favorite of someone, somewhere. When faced with the task of justifying decisions to a dedicated user of a recently-cut resource, wouldn’t “…and we also thought that the way the software prevents you from cutting-and-pasting the text was a pretty unreasonable restriction on your use” or “…and also, the fact that you’re not supposed to link to this resource from your course website, despite the fact that we’ve paid for your students to access it as individuals” lend another bit of weight to the discussion?

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