Library reduces subscriptions

By Kelsey Rowlson

Changes are occurring in Whatcom Community College’s Library: budget cuts.  But Kiki Tommila and the library staff are making the best of a hard situation.

“We have cut about 35 percent from our periodicals budget,” said Linda Lambert, library director.  This resulted in the library cutting 22 percent of their subscriptions.

But fear not, Lambert said. “Most of the materials we cut are covered in our electronic databases which is what we encourage students use for serious research.”

You just won’t be able to hold some periodicals, like The New York Times, in your hand.

The switch from print to digital began occurring over the past few years.  As EBSCO and Proquest were introduced to Whatcom and as the databases grew, students began using online more than the physical collection.

“That made sense as we realized that students preferred the digital to the physical journals because of the ease in searching and the 24/7 access,” said Kiki Tommila.

Over the years, space has become a huge issue for the library.  “We decided to keep the physical journals that were popular “browse” journals and cancel the subscriptions for journals that our students were already paying for (with their tuition and tax dollars) in the online databases,” said Tommila.

The smaller physical collection of journals and the back files (one year of past issues), were moved to the main floor of the library, clearing up space for more books in the old journal room.

Recently, the library went through the process again.  The library staff took a look at “what titles are available in our online databases and made some decisions based on online availability, patron usage, price, and space constraints.”

After slimming down the periodicals again, Tommilla and the space planning committee went to work on organizing the physical copies for easier usage.  “I think the shelving will make it easier to browse the collection,” said Tommila. “It looks cool.”

Presently, the periodicals can be found on the main floor of the library on shelving.  The backfiles can be found right underneath each periodical on display.  “We are hoping that we have made the collection more assessable by prioritizing the titles and housing the journals and the back files together. We have definitely saved a significant amount of our shrinking journals budget by deleting duplicate titles” said Tommila. “A significant factor in our decision to focus on our online resources is our hope and belief that students will become more sophisticated in how they search in our online journal collection.”

With all of the cuts to the periodical collection, concerns were raised by faculty about titles needed for classroom projects.  “We checked and double-checked to make sure that those journals were available in our collection, physical or online.”

Tommilla stresses that a student should never have to pay for an article, since they already have paid for it through their tuition and tax dollars.  If a student is looking for a particular journal, they should feel free to ask at the reference desk and if the library doesn’t have a specific journal in their physical or online collection, they can show students where to find it.

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