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Ripe for the plucking: centralized and consolidated library budgets as revenue streams for profit

Roger L. Cross (Collection Development, Morris Library, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois, USA)

The Bottom Line

ISSN: 0888-045X

Article publication date: 23 August 2011

Abstract

Purpose

The rise of academic librarian professionalism coincided with the consolidation and centralization of university libraries. The resulting consolidation of the materials budget offered a revenue stream exploited by increasingly large publishers. Since publishers will always attempt to maximize their profits, the only way to restrict unlimited access to library funds is through reverting to decentralization. One such method is the creation of modules without overlapping funding. The purpose of this paper is to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper relies on a wide range of academic library economic literature in an attempt to clarify the structural problem of library budgeting as well as to find means to reverse the slide into budgetary collapse.

Findings

Professional librarians have over‐centralized academic libraries. This has provided publishers in the past with profitable revenue streams that continue to expand even while the library's ability to maintain funding has contracted. Since publishers will not impose limits on maximizing their profits, it is up to the librarian to impose strictures on available funding.

Originality/value

This paper argues that there is a causal relation between the rise of increasingly large for‐profit publishing and the rise of the centralized big academic library run by library professionals. It proposes the decentralization of academic library budgets as a means to regain fiscal control.

Keywords

Citation

Cross, R.L. (2011), "Ripe for the plucking: centralized and consolidated library budgets as revenue streams for profit", The Bottom Line, Vol. 24 No. 2, pp. 140-144. https://doi.org/10.1108/08880451111169214

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited