Sunday, March 05, 2006

R & D and Library Spending

Updated March 6, 2006

The following post forms part of the Liblicense-L Thread, "R & D and Library Spending":

In brief, my answer to whether there is - or should be - a correlation
between R & D spending and library budgets, particularly serials budgets is: no, and yes.

The reason I would suggest that there should be no direct correlation between R & D spending and library budgets is because needs for library funding are ongoing and independent of research funding, and predate research grants. Picture, for example, a brand new university, hiring new staff, none of whom have any research grants yet. The university will need to develop a library; the researchers will need to use the library in order to develop proposals for research grants. When the grants come in, it absolutely makes sense to consider further investments in the library. However, this correlation should not be direct, as the preexisting library investments need to be taken into account.

For example, if the library already subscribes to the "big deals" of all the big science publishers, it makes no sense at all to purchase more of the big deal when a research grant is received.

On the other hand, using additional research grant monies to invest in other areas would make a lot more sense. For example, universities need to develop Open Access Archives to allow faculty to openly share their peer-reviewed postprints. Once these are established and filled, a useful next step would be to set up the kinds of open access repositories that can handle open data and other enriched information resources that go beyond traditional publishing.

Thre were some excellent sessions at the OAI4 conference on open data and e-research - see especially the sessions by Peter Murray-Rust, Liz Lyons, and Hans Pfeiffenberger; links can be found at:

Other areas for library expenditures that might make sense for the big deal libraries include reinvesting in the works of the smaller society publishers whose works may have been cancelled in order to purchase the big deals, catching up on monographs purchases, library service investments (e.g. to pay for any additional information literacy, research, or interlibrary loans services that the new research projects may require). This could also be a good opportunity to use the funds for the preservation efforts which ARL has defined as a current priority.

Of course, for the library which does not yet have the "big deal", using the additional funding from research may be a way to afford the big deal as well.

Sent to Liblicense-L March 5, 2006

This post reflects my personal opinion only and does not represent the opinions or policy of the BC Electronic Library Network or the Simon Fraser University Library.

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