Since January, libraries at the ANU have put a halt on acquisitions of all books, except for those required for critical reading, with an unfavourable foreign exchange rate cited as heavily impacting the purchasing budget.
Over the past year, all six branches of the ANU’s library service have bought 60,883 books; however this only includes those considered ‘critical’, restricting the purchases to textbooks. This, however, leaves out up-to-date texts needed for independent student research.
In an “ANU Library: Suggest a Book Purchase” email exchange sent to Woroni by a student, it was suggested that the University Librarian, Roxanne Missingham, had called for this action.
Missingham commented that the falling exchange rate was the main factor in limiting book buying, with online journal subscriptions also being cut for savings.
“Since many online subscriptions and book purchases are based from overseas, our budget is significantly affected by the exchange rate,” Missingham said.
“66% of our purchases are in USD, and a further 24% in other foreign currencies. Only 10% are in AUD.”
“As a result, this year our budget has been constrained quite heavily by the falling exchange rate.”
“The serials’ price increase of around 6% has also challenged us to have to meet this within our budget.”
If requested non-critical books are deemed to be an urgent purchase, these will be explored, but only on a discretionary basis.
A document released by Missingham in August 2013 outlined that the Library’s budget made up approximately 17% of the total academic and administrative support central area budget, with the total savings for 2014 expected to be around $6.73 million, based on the 2013 budgets.
A concerned PhD student raised issues of how the continuing cuts in the Library budget would affect student research, especially on constantly changing topics such as political development and linguistic theories.
“We can all understand if there has to be a cut back on acquisitions – but a total freeze?” they said.
“We do like constructing new residential buildings for $53 million, but new academic titles for the residents of those buildings aren’t needed, obviously.”