Three weeks ago I sat in a small room with fellow faculty members at the University of North Carolina who serve with me on the administrative board of our library. At that meeting we voted to cancel 551 journal subscriptions. Over the previous 12 months we had canceled an additional 500 subscriptions as part of our ongoing serial review program. We had little choice. Already stagnant budgets coupled with dramatic increases in subscription prices had cut the number of books we could purchase in a year to half the number we had purchased only eight years before. If we were to continue to purchase books at all, expenditures for journal subscriptions had to be slashed.

At our neighboring institution, North Carolina State University, the situation was even more grim, because there a stronger emphasis on science has caused serials to make up a larger portion of the materials budget. Book...

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