STUDENTS AND OTHER researchers are used to driving to a library
across town or faxing a request to a library clear across the
country when they can't find that special book or journal article
in their own college or university library.
For users of libraries at Missouri's public universities and
colleges, the chase promises only to get more frustrating.
With the number of books and scholarly journals growing, their
prices ballooning way out of proportion to inflation, and the
amount of electronic information exploding, all libraries are
having a harder time keeping up.
Some university libraries are scrambling for enormous budget
increases. Those that can't get them are hacking away at their
St. Louis University boosts its library budget every year by
well over the rate of inflation, said Provost Alice B. Hayes. Last
year at the law library, she said, the budget for books and
journals went up 35 percent.
Frances Benham, university librarian, says SLU's libraries
gobble up so much money that "the provost and president think I'm
a bottomless pit."
In Missouri, few public universities have found the means to
keep up with costs. Central Missouri State University is "acquiring
less and less and less," says Pal Rao, dean of library services.
The University of Missouri has committed extra money to a
five-year plan to update libraries on its four campuses. But the
extra dollars haven't staved off cuts. The St. Louis campus has
stopped subscriptions to nearly 600 journals - or almost a fifth of
its subscription list, including "things that every research
library should have," said Joan Rapp, director of libraries.
In part, print holdings have fallen prey to the cost of such
things as CD-ROMs and data bases that cover anything from a
national phone directory to the inventory of 150 libraries in
Missouri - infinitely more information than the old thumb-worn card
catalogs. These electronic holdings now account for 9 percent of
UMSL's acquisitions budget, up from 1 percent five years ago, Rapp
Plans by the University of Missouri to bolster its data bases
and electronic collections and to deliver documents by computer
network got sideswiped by the state vote April 5 on riverboat
gambling. Had it passed, the state's public university libraries
stood to share a one-time windfall of $16.7 million.
The defeat "will keep us from moving forward for a long time,"
Rapp said. "It's going to put us further and further behind in our
Scholars are feeling the effects of the cuts at UMSL. Lawrence
Barton, chairman of the chemistry department, said it had lost its
subscriptions to two major publications. He added, "We don't
subscribe to all the journals published by our professional
association. That's wrong."
Rapp said that UMSL cut journals across the board, even though
the cost of scientific journals has risen much faster than those in
other disciplines. Especially for some foreign journals,
subscription costs have increased 2000 percent or more since 1970,
while the consumer-price index was increasing 276 percent. …