Journal publishing reform

Members of the McMaster community will already know about the growing costs facing the University library to support research. Part of the problem is related to academic publishers, who charge exorbitantly high prices for their journals and sell journals in large “bundles” that force libraries to buy journals that they may not need.

Calls for reform have been made, including by the groups Research without Walls and The cost of knowledge

For those interested, there is a useful set of links collected here.

Library review

The University Library will be undergoing a review in order to assess the current state of the library and its background, and to provide advice for the future development of the Library.

The Review Team will conduct the on-site component of its process on two days, Monday, March 26 and Tuesday, March 27, 2012, and will meet with various constituencies with an interest in the Library, including Library management, Library staff, students and faculty.

There will be an opportunity for all interested parties to speak with the committee.

Information about the membership of the Review Team and the McMaster Library Review process are available at

The new budget model and the library

The university is going through the process of considering a new budget model, and the Task Force charged with overseeing the most recent phase has reported. (A copy of the full report can be downloaded here.)

The library community will be especially interested in p. 28 of that report on the funding of the library:

    3.18 Libraries

    At McMaster University there are two distinct library systems in place. The main University libraries, and the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) library, have distinct budgets and administration.

    BMTF II determined that both the University libraries and the FHS library are accessible to all students. Studies from FHS have shown that non-FHS students use the FHS library often. Similarly there is use of

    all University libraries by students from FHS. Therefore, it was agreed that the best approach would be to combine the costs (or budgets) and allocate the total costs to all Faculties.

    Potential drivers

    • Faculty FTE, Total student FTE, and research revenue or expenditure (equally weighted)
    • A combination of faculty FTE, graduate student FTE, and UG student FTE
    • Total direct expenditure (operating and research)

    Recommended Driver

    Faculty FTE (exclude sessionals), Graduate student FTE, and UG student FTE


    The Task Force discussed usage of the libraries and agreed that they are used by faculty and students.Usage by staff, sessional faculty and others would be minimal. Thus a driver that included students (graduate and UG) and faculty is recommended as it reflected usage.

Changes at ALUC

At the most recent ULAC meeting, Keith Kinder resigned as chair.  In the interim, Claude Eilers has stepped in as Acting Chair.  He will act in that capacity until the next meeting of ULAC, when a chair will be elected to serve for the rest of the year.

Minutes – May 13, 2011


University Library Advisory Council

Friday, May 13, 2011 | 10:00-11:00

Library Community Room 304




Attending:       James Benn, Matt Dillion-Leitch, , Keith Kinder (Chair),  Peter Miu, Jeff Trzeciak, Greg Wohl; Wade Wyckoff


Regrets:          David Earn, Nibaldo Galleguillos, Aaron Schat, Claude Eilers


1.     Keith Kinder (Chair) asked that the minutes be accepted. All in favor, Greg Wohl seconded the motion.


2.     Dr. Benn requested confirmation regarding:

number of meetings to be held during the academic year, Dr. Kinder advised that the committee meets three times (3x) a year.

Terms of Reference to be posted

ULAC minutes to be posted after confidential items are edited


3.     Discussion of Libraries / Journals

§       Jeff met with a number departments on campus regarding Library changes

§       3 ways to save money were proposed at the budget meeting:

  • Reduce staffing through voluntary separation
  • Eliminate all Audio Visual upgrades
  • Flat acquisitions, which results in approximately $300,000 in cuts due to inflation
  • Note:  the University provided $300,000 in on-going budget for AV upgrades

§       Discussion around the issue of poorly scanned images and the need to have a mechanism for reporting such images


§       Acquisitions

  • seek out additional fund raising to assist in one-time purchases (Dean of Humanities secured nearly $1 million for resources in Humanities)
  • Library not receiving additional funding for new programs (Chair in Global Islam)
  • Work w/ Faculties to identify low usage materials for elimination

4.     Thode

§       Purchase necessary back-files (to free up space)

§       Implement scan on demand for Thode Storage

§       Thode: basement browsing will be accessed with escort, renovations began 2004

§       lack of space was identified as a result of increased use from 16,000 to 22,000 students at peak


Next meeting will take place in early November.

Circulation data

Rick Anderson (Utah) has analyzed circ stats against enrollment data for since 1995 for all of the ARLs.  The published results can be found at: In spite of enrollment increases our actual circulation of materials has declined by 35%.  When you factor in enrollment increases the # of circ transactions per student has declined by 66% from 29 items per student per year to just 10 items per student per year.


Welcome to the University Library Advisory Council blog.  I will be periodically adding content to the blog as we plan for our fall agenda.  Please note that several articles have been posted in the “Additional Readings” section that may be of interest to advisory council members.  I will continue post other reports that I believe may be of interest to members. For now, comments are turned off this blog.  We can discuss how we might want to use the blog at an upcoming meeting.

Enjoy the summer.