April 12, 2021
Dean of Libraries
Springtime usually turns into budget season at UW where each unit undergoes various
rounds of preparation and presentation. Some years are upbeat, others more of a downer.
Budget reductions across the board make this a downer year. Instead of talking about
doom and gloom, I thought it better to highlight some ways we use parts of our budget
to provide library resources and services beyond the walls of our buildings on campus.
We have excellent spaces on campus that are refurbished, upgraded, or expanded. Folks
coming into the libraries are impressed to see the physical transformations of our
spaces. Significant allocations of our annual budget, however, tend to be lesser-known
or visible. The following outlines some of the ways we support learning and research
on campus, digitally, and across the state.
One major expense for UW Libraries each year is the cost of access to a wide variety
of online resources for all residents of Wyoming. Statewide access anywhere in the
US tends to be very expensive but because of Wyoming’s low population, the costs are
more manageable. We spend over $1 million per year for online access to resources
covering more popular topics. The Wyoming State Library does something similar, spending about $750,000 per year
for other digital resources that have broad interest. As much as possible, we make sure not to overlap. With both of these initiatives,
the residents of Wyoming have access to an impressive array of free resources right
at their fingertips.
For faculty and student researchers, we provide access to the Web of Science from Clarivate, a key resource for multiple STEM disciplines. UW Libraries pays $300,000 annually
for access to this important resource, funded largely through the Office of Research and indirect costs from grant funds.
In 2021, UW Libraries aims to complete the Wyoming Newspaper Digitization Collection project. Over the past three years, we’ve allocated about $700,000 for this project, along
with $200,000 of federal grant money from the National Endowment for the Humanities. This will preserve most of Wyoming’s historic newspapers and make them accessible for all residents in the state and beyond. Earlier in March,
this project was profiled and lauded in various Wyoming newspapers (and rightfully
so!). Several of the newspapers are also now available on the Wyoming and Colorado
Plains to Peak Historic Newspaper database. Kudos to our Digital Collections librarians and staff for their amazing work. For
more information about this project, see this recently published case study.
Over the years, the University of Wyoming has promoted faculty research in book publication
series. In 2019, through the initiative of UW Libraries, UW joined the University Press of Colorado and Utah. The Libraries’ budget covers UW’s membership fees of $22,000 per year with one benefit
of having our “branding” on all their book publications. To expand the University’s
presence in the world of research and scholarship, we are establishing a University
of Wyoming monograph series under the auspices of the Press and, when this comes about,
exposure to UW scholarship through national and international marketing will be significant.
Details about this series will be announced later this year.
Maintaining and expanding “open access” (OA) to educational resources is a key value
for UW Libraries, as it is for most academic libraries. OA or Open Educational Resources (OER) pertains to materials available to anyone for no cost, but with the expectation that
the authors are acknowledged. We encourage UW faculty to write textbooks and have
them published digitally. We make them available free of charge to UW students (and
to students anywhere). For this, we developed an OER “Alt-Textbook” grant program.
Faculty apply to UW Libraries for funds to write textbooks or create various learning
objects for their courses. Over the first two years of the program (now in its 3rd year), 23 grants were awarded to 25 UW faculty members that cover 11 disciplines
from mathematics and the sciences to the humanities. The last round of grant awards projects to save UW students more than $67,000 per semester. Our UW Libraries budget
allocates $30,000 per year to support the Alt-Textbook program.
UW Libraries invest significant funds for creating, developing, and maintain “institutional
repositories.” “What on earth is that?” you might ask. Known as “IRs”, they house
digital publications for general, easy access. Essentially, IRs become digital libraries.
They promote scholarship, store research results (mainly datasets), and offer access
to various types of digital material (text, audio, video, and other types of media).
UW Libraries manages several IRs to store and share publications, images, 3-D scans,
and University publications. UW Libraries spend several hundreds of thousands of dollars
each year in salaries, fees, technical support, and IR development for the benefit
not only of UW but for all residents of Wyoming, and beyond. Check out all our institutional repositories.
Should you wonder how UW Libraries spends its budgets each year, this update should
show how significant funds go to support students, faculty, and all the University’s
stakeholders, as well as every resident of Wyoming. In doing so, UW Libraries also
help reinforce UW’s land-grant mission -- to benefit and support the state of Wyoming.
I welcome any comments or questions you have about this. Thank you for your support!
Dean Ivan Gaetz