This is the time of year — actually it was two months ago but we’re just getting around to it now — when your trusty librarians sit down to do something slightly more painful than filing their income taxes: annual journal subscription renewals.
This is where we get a huge printout of all the journals we subscribe to, and we have to decide which ones we want to keep getting next year, which ones we can cut, and which ones we can add. Budgets being what they are, we usually can only add subscriptions if we first make cuts that will save enough money for the new titles.
Why would we cut anything, you say? After all, we *are* librarians — we still have (and know where to find) all of our elementary school, middle school, and high school yearbooks, in chronological order and indexed by classmates’ popularity. Well, one reason to cut is that we occasionally find that a journal we subscribe to has become available in full text in one of the databases we subscribe to. So, why pay twice? In those cases we cut the print subscription in favor of the online access, and use any savings to buy something else.
This is, of course, an arduous, anxiety-provoking process. What if we cut these titles that we have online access to, but next year the online access is discontinued, or becomes more expensive? What if we cut a print journal and save $2,000 but the one person at Alliant who reads it goes ballistic? Hamlet and his quandaries are alive and well in the library.
All of this is my way of begging your pardon if we in the library have a dazed expression for the next few weeks, or if we seem to stare at you a bit too pointedly as you browse the new journal arrivals. Don’t take it personally — it’s not you, it’s us.