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          Front Page




Book Prices are Rising, Leading UNM to Consider a Tuition Increase

By Olivier Uyttebrouck
Journal Staff Writer
    Mention libraries and people usually think of books. But University of New Mexico libraries now spends about 40 percent less on book purchases than a decade ago despite a steady rise in book prices, UNM librarians estimate.
    UNM's libraries have trimmed book purchases by nearly a third in the past decade, from about 30,000 in 1995 to 22,000 in academic year 2004-05, estimated Frances Wilkinson, University Libraries associate dean.
    UNM has also trimmed about 700 scholarly journal subscriptions during that period, she said. UNM now subscribes to about 20,000 journals in print and electronic formats.
    Library officials say they plan to ask regents for a 1 percent tuition increase this year to provide a steady funding source for books, journals and other materials. The increase would raise about $940,000 a year.
    UNM has scheduled a campuswide "budget summit" on March 31 to consider the 2006-07 budget proposals.
    The rising cost of journal subscriptions, together with a flat budget for all library materials, are putting the squeeze on book purchases.
    "The money that came out of the book budget has gone to subsidizing subscriptions for scholarly journals," said Barry Kues, a member of the Faculty Senate library committee.
    Library materials are vital to UNM's ability to attract research funding, he said. Research contracts and grants, total about $295 million this year.
    "All of that research depends on adequate library resources," Kues said. "Library resources ought to be keeping up with the growth of overall research that UNM people are doing, but it certainly hasn't."
    Spiraling costs for academic journals underlie the problem, Wilkinson said. Consolidation in the journal publishing industry is driving price increases of 8 percent a year or more.
    In the meantime, UNM's budget for buying books, journals and other materials has remained flat for a decade, she said.
    Journal subscriptions consumed about $3.4 million of the libraries' $4.5 million acquisitions budget, which pays for all books, journals, electronic media and all other materials, she said.
    Journal subscriptions are expected to rise to about $3.7 million in the 2006-07 academic year, she said.