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Money for helmets, not for books

Say goodbye to Lexis-Nexis

The impending loss of research database LexisNexis looms large over SDSU’s Love Library.
The impending loss of research database LexisNexis looms large over SDSU’s Love Library.

Money for college sports at tax-funded San Diego State University has been growing at a rapid clip. Not so, the school’s library funding, according to a dire State of the Library report presented April 5 to the school’s academic senate. Librarians assert that chronic underfunding has badly hurt the university’s efforts to improve its modest academic standing.

While cash for athletics “rose 24.6 percent from $34.2 million in 2011–12 to $42.6 million in 2015–16,” the library’s budget “has been nearly static.” Says the report, “In 2014–15, unaccountably, the library budget declined by a small amount to $7.847 million. It is only in the present budget year — 2015–16 — that the library’s budget went up by a significant amount to $8.311 million, thanks to an infusion of $100,000 to the base budget for library subscriptions and more money for hiring.”

The document asserts that soaring acquisition expenses threaten to decimate book and magazine collections. “Making matters worse, the cost of periodicals [and] subscriptions has been steadily rising at an average rate of about 7 percent per year, with some popular titles rising as much as 15 percent per annum. As the library’s budget has remained largely static, these subscriptions take up more and more of the pie, resulting in a budget that cannot keep up with the rising costs of current titles, let alone purchase new titles.”

In addition, “Because periodicals take up an increasingly greater proportion of the library’s budget, the amount devoted to book purchases (still the gold standard for scholarly production in the humanities and social sciences) has declined precipitously.”

Online services have also been badly neglected, the report says. It lists eight “essential database resources that we need (especially if SDSU is to achieve its ambition of becoming a top fifty public research university) but cannot afford.”

Conclude the librarians, “We stress that we are not being alarmist: for example, the Library is about to lose its subscription to LexisNexis because the [California State University system] has decided to stop paying for it and the Library cannot afford to purchase a subscription on it is own.”

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The impending loss of research database LexisNexis looms large over SDSU’s Love Library.
The impending loss of research database LexisNexis looms large over SDSU’s Love Library.

Money for college sports at tax-funded San Diego State University has been growing at a rapid clip. Not so, the school’s library funding, according to a dire State of the Library report presented April 5 to the school’s academic senate. Librarians assert that chronic underfunding has badly hurt the university’s efforts to improve its modest academic standing.

While cash for athletics “rose 24.6 percent from $34.2 million in 2011–12 to $42.6 million in 2015–16,” the library’s budget “has been nearly static.” Says the report, “In 2014–15, unaccountably, the library budget declined by a small amount to $7.847 million. It is only in the present budget year — 2015–16 — that the library’s budget went up by a significant amount to $8.311 million, thanks to an infusion of $100,000 to the base budget for library subscriptions and more money for hiring.”

The document asserts that soaring acquisition expenses threaten to decimate book and magazine collections. “Making matters worse, the cost of periodicals [and] subscriptions has been steadily rising at an average rate of about 7 percent per year, with some popular titles rising as much as 15 percent per annum. As the library’s budget has remained largely static, these subscriptions take up more and more of the pie, resulting in a budget that cannot keep up with the rising costs of current titles, let alone purchase new titles.”

In addition, “Because periodicals take up an increasingly greater proportion of the library’s budget, the amount devoted to book purchases (still the gold standard for scholarly production in the humanities and social sciences) has declined precipitously.”

Online services have also been badly neglected, the report says. It lists eight “essential database resources that we need (especially if SDSU is to achieve its ambition of becoming a top fifty public research university) but cannot afford.”

Conclude the librarians, “We stress that we are not being alarmist: for example, the Library is about to lose its subscription to LexisNexis because the [California State University system] has decided to stop paying for it and the Library cannot afford to purchase a subscription on it is own.”

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3

In 1971, I was a graduate student at SDSU when the then-new Malcolm Love library opened at SDSU. It looked great, but the collection in the place was decidedly weak. One thing I'd often find in the stacks was a dozen-or-more copies of some out-of-date textbook that some prof had apparently demanded they buy so that his/her students would not have to buy it. And so it went in the collection. The place wasn't run well, and at times seemed almost out-of-control of the librarians. Over the next decade I had my experiences with the library as an occasional visitor, and also when I was a part-time instructor there. The library did not impress. In the 70's there was a huge problem with theft of books and materials, so there was a security system in place that searched all bags, packs, and even large purses.

The elegantly-designed lobby of the building soon degenerated into a dingy, beat-up, and inhospitable place. The last time I visited there--probably going-on thirty years ago--it didn't show any pride or anything that suggested scholarship. So, what's new?

Oh, Matt is going to catch hell for his comment about "modest academic standing", even though that is totally apt. As to whether the new age paradigm still supports the notion of buying books as the core of a collection, I cannot be sure. If they buy the right books and preserve them, then I suppose that is correct. But buying best sellers and multiple copies of mediocre textbooks isn't the purpose of the place. I wish the librarians well; they are the keepers of the flame.

April 13, 2016

In 1971, I was a graduate student at SDSU when the then-new Malcolm Love library opened at SDSU. It looked great, but the collection in the place was decidedly weak. One thing I'd often find in the stacks was a dozen-or-more copies of some out-of-date textbook that some prof had apparently demanded they buy so that his/her students would not have to buy it. And so it went in the collection. The place wasn't run well, and at times seemed almost out-of-control of the librarians. Over the next decade I had my experiences with the library as an occasional visitor, and also when I was a part-time instructor there. The library did not impress. In the 70's there was a huge problem with theft of books and materials, so there was a security system in place that searched all bags, packs, and even large purses.

You should go back and look at it; they have had a dome lobby leading to an underground entrance since the 1990s. The stacks have massively improved because they've been filling them out for decades, and the librarians actually care about what goes on the shelves. That written, if the librarians themselves felt in 2016 that they were being hamstrung in book purchases because of stingy funding, then they probably are.

March 13, 2017

One has to ask why on earth San Diego State would need a first-rate library? For the majors in business administration? For the hospitality industry majors? For the elementary education majors? What SDSU needs -- and is working on -- is land in Mission Valley for non-Greek housing and a smaller sports stadium that can be used for football and soccer. SDSU Library is an oxymoron, emphasis on the moron.

April 19, 2016

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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