When the talk turns to saving money, as it often does, the University Libraries at UNCG have a story to tell. And so do their colleagues in other libraries in the area.
In 2005 the University Libraries at UNCG conceived and established the Carolina Consortium to leverage the buying power of the state’s libraries to acquire access to electronic journals and databases. Less than ten years later, the Consortium now covers North and South Carolina and includes more than 140 libraries. “Total cost avoidance savings for the UNC system libraries alone amounted to more than $100 million last year and more than $500 million since the group was formed,” says Tim Bucknall, Convener of the Consortium and Assistant Director of the University Libraries at UNCG. “As a result of the Consortium’s deals, the libraries in the region have better access to electronic information resources at a cost far below what it would cost each of them to acquire the resources alone.”
The story doesn’t end there. Open access to scholarship is a major issue in the world of libraries and scholarly communication, and the UNCG libraries are advocates of maximizing access to that scholarship at an affordable cost. Through the leadership of Dean Rosann Bazirjian and others such as Collections and Scholarly Resources Coordinator Stephen Dew and Bucknall’s Electronic Resources and Information Technology Unit, UNCG’s University Libraries championed and created a partnership with other UNC system libraries including those at Appalachian State, East Carolina, UNC Pembroke, UNC Wilmington and Western Carolina to create NC DOCKS, an electronic database offering the scholarly output of faculty from those universities to the general public for free over the Internet. Dew says, “NC DOCKS has had 584,105 full text document views since 2008, with 443,203 from UNCG alone.” That’s about half a million articles and other scholarly products accessed by students, faculty, researchers and the general public without cost, which Bucknall estimates would have amounted to more than $20 million if obtained from sources other than open access resources such as NC DOCKS.
So the value of libraries is great, even in ways that aren’t always visible to the user community. When we are operating in this way, leveraging our heritage of cooperation and collaboration, libraries are uniquely suited to bring a wealth of knowledge to scholars and the public at an affordable and containable cost.