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everybody. Let’s face it; we are organized hoarders, holding fast to our principles of           The Yogi Berraevery book ...
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11.the yogi

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11.the yogi

  1. 1. The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at www.emeraldinsight.com/0888-045X.htmBL RUNNING ON EMPTY24,2 The Yogi Berra school of library science138 Anthony McMullen Baron-Forness Library, Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, Edinboro,Accepted May 2011 Pennsylvania, USA Abstract Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to provide insights into issues encountered in maintaining library technologies on a limited budget and with limited personnel. Design/methodology/approach – The paper uses real world experiences to report on collection development decisions as they relate to electronic resources in an era of shrinking budgets. Findings – The percentage of library budgets allocated for the acquisition of electronic resources has risen steadily in an online era. As state legislatures across the country cut funding, librarians must cut expenditures accordingly. With electronic resources comprising a large segment of overall expenditures, cuts in this area are unavoidable. Originality/value – This paper examines the decision-making process in the context of renewing or canceling underused electronic resources in an era of shrinking library budgets. It takes a humorous approach in suggesting that librarians need to look beyond emotions and base their decisions on facts. Keywords Electronic resources, Budgets Paper type Viewpoint “We can’t cancel that! It’s a great resource! It’s just that nobody uses it!” This was the opening salvo at a recent meeting I attended, fired off in support of an expensive but rarely used database. It is a great resource – nobody uses it . . . Where had I heard that before? It sounded vaguely familiar to me, reminiscent of something former New York Yankees great Yogi Berra, a man as famous for his malapropisms as he was for his skills on the ball field, may have said had he chosen a slightly different career path. Yes! That is it! It is the juxtaposition of one of my all time favorite “Berraisms” – the one where Yogi, in explaining why he no longer dined at a certain restaurant, stated, “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.” The meeting had only a single item on the agenda: identify a list of electronic resources to cut in the likely scenario that the library’s budget is reduced in the upcoming fiscal year. It was a painful gathering with negligible progress and considerable contention. Looking backwards, and knowing what I know about librarians’ personality types, I realize that I was foolish to believe we could ever come to a consensus. Generally, librarians do not enjoy confrontation and go to great lengthsThe Bottom Line: Managing Library to avoid it. Conversely, we are passionate people and vigorously defend our territoriesFinances or our collections as is the case here, when we feel as though they are threatened. WeVol. 24 No. 2, 2011pp. 138-139 loathe letting go, as in, “Hey! Mrs Grimstead still uses those eight track tapes, Mister!”q Emerald Group Publishing Limited0888-045X Our stacks are filled with volumes that have never been charged. We keep thingsDOI 10.1108/08880451111169205 because somebody might potentially need them someday. We are all things to
  2. 2. everybody. Let’s face it; we are organized hoarders, holding fast to our principles of The Yogi Berraevery book his reader, every reader his book. Thus, we can stand proudly in the face ofunprecedented budget cuts and fight the good fight for the database that nobody ever school of libraryuses because somebody might need it someday. science Perhaps that somebody is the Godfather of a certain academic department, therevered professor who has been handing out the same assignment in the second weekof April for the past 34 years; the assignment that requires students to use a printed 139index to locate and photocopy an article from microfilm. We certainly cannot tell theGodfather that he must change his assignment; that we are no longer subscribing tothe film or the printed index; that both have been supplanted by electronic versions.We are all things to everybody. We must not rock the boat. So we maintain redundanthard-copy and electronic subscriptions with little concern for finances so that a singleinstructor can continue to do what he has always done. Or perhaps that somebody is nobody at all. This, seemingly, was precisely the pointof a respected colleague, who in her defense of a pricey but seldom used electronicresource quoted the noted philosopher Thomas Carlyle. “The true university thesedays,” she said, “is a collection of books,” to which she added triumphantly, “Note thatit says nothing at all about usage.” Well alright then. Let us keep another greatresource nobody uses based entirely upon the stale words of a Scottish philosopher,cherry-picked from a passage in a 150 þ year old work that has absolutely nothing todo with library collection development. Let us conveniently ignore the fact that Carlyle,in the sentences leading up to his quote, clearly notes that it is not the booksthemselves that comprise the university, but the reading of the books. Usage matters,even in 1841. The harsh reality is such that we cannot have our cake and eat it too. When theGovernor is proposing to slash our funding by 54 percent, we can no longer hang on toexpensive resources that nobody uses simply because we believe them to be qualityresources. We live and work in an era where we are held accountable for our decisionsand actions. We live and work in an era where we must not only do more with less, butjustify all that we do with that ever shrinking slice of the pie. In this setting, the notionof standing on the carpet and explaining why we elected to renew for yet another yeara resource that costs hundreds of dollars per use is a highly unappealing one. In thissetting where, as Yogi once said, “A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore,” we need tomake decisions based upon timely and relevant evidence, not on our emotions, fears, oreven the words of a brilliant but long-gone philosopher. The Godfather and MrsGrimstead may be disappointed, but I have got to think that Yogi had exactly this typeof situation in mind when he told us, “If you come to a fork in the road, take it.”About the authorAnthony McMullen is Systems Librarian at the Baron-Forness Library, Edinboro University ofPennsylvania, one of the 14 universities comprising the Pennsylvania State System of HigherEducation. Anthony earned his MSLS at Clarion University of Pennsylvania and has been in thelibrary profession for over 16 years. Anthony McMullen can be contacted at: amcmullen@edinboro.eduTo purchase reprints of this article please e-mail: reprints@emeraldinsight.comOr visit our web site for further details: www.emeraldinsight.com/reprints

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