Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL)

CAUL Budget Survey 1997

Updated 1 June, 1998

I undertook two surveys of CAUL libraries during the year to assess the effects of financial cuts to universities; all but one Library responded to one or both surveys.

It is difficult to draw conclusions because some of the cuts were due to the effects of inflation, rather than absolute cuts to a library's budget. Rather than try to unravel the differences, I have summarized the data as presented to me. When I did not get a response to the second part of the survey, I have used the data presented earlier in the year assuming it was still valid. Please read this summary in conjunction with the earlier one.

Some libraries actually noted no change in their budgets, or increases. At risk of generalization, I don't think there were any instances where the increase was greater than the ensuing salary increases and inflation to material and equipment costs during the year. Overall, the actual cuts are likely to be higher than reported here, and I believe that we should read these as a minimum.

Many Librarians reported that they expect 1998 to be even worse than 1997; for the budget surveys in 1998 I shall try to elicit more specific information. Using the total library expenditure statistics in the AARL 1996 Library Statistics, I reckon that the cuts totalling more than $12.1m is about 3.4% of our total expenditure in 1996.

There has been a reduction in overall services, and the ways and means are reported in the earlier survey. In addition, some respondents this time were concerned that the qualitative performance in research and reference support, for example, has diminished; there was worry about maintaining the high costs of IT infrastructure; and another noted that the cuts seriously reduced the ability of the library to innovate at a time when such practice is needed to adjust to the changing environment.

Summary information:

Total Cuts in 1997                     $12,109,000                             

Cuts to Salaries (Absolute and some    $7,463,000                              

Cuts to Materials                      $2,515,000                              

Cuts to Sundries (Other budget lines)  $1,121,000                              

Equipment only                         $327,000                                

Other (often includes equipment)       $794,000                                

Unspecified                            $1,010,000 (Makes no mention of where   
                                       the cuts were applied; in some          
                                       instances reserve funds were used)      

Ray Choate
University Librarian
University of Adelaide

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