Frequently Asked Questions about the Electronic Core Collection (ECC)
This article was written by CSU Libraries on April 8th, 2019.
Thanks to the advocacy of many partners over the 2018-2019 academic year, the plea for additional funding for the Electronic Core Collection was heard. Thank you to Executive Vice Chancellor, Dr. Loren Blanchard, for allocating an additional $1 million in base funds to this critical resource that benefits all California State University students, staff, and faculty. This case could not have been made without the support of the Statewide Academic Senate and the senates of many CSU campuses, listed below. We still have a way to go, but this goes a long way.
Resolutions in support of the ECC
The Statewide Academic Senate and several CSU campuses — including Chico, East Bay, Fullerton, Humboldt, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Monterey Bay, Northridge, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Jose, San Luis Obispo (also ASI), and Sonoma — have passed resolutions in support of increased funding for the ECC.
What is included in the ECC?
The ECC currently includes a collection of subscription databases of published content, including scholarly articles, popular news and magazine articles, reference articles, business data, and e-books. See the full list of 2018-19 ECC databases at the bottom of this document.
Who is responsible for the ECC?
The ECC began in 1999 as an initiative of the CSU Council of Library Deans (COLD). It is funded by the CSU Chancellor’s Office, Academic Technology Services Division. Decisions about subscribed content included in the ECC are made by COLD, based on recommendations made by a COLD standing committee, EAR (Electronic Access to Information Resources), whose ten members include two deans, plus librarian representatives from small, medium, and large CSU campuses, each serving two-year terms.
Who can access the ECC?
All CSU students, faculty, and staff have unlimited access.
What is the current budget for the ECC?
$5 million per year, which has stayed flat since 2008. This cost equates to about $10 per CSU student.
What disciplines are covered by the ECC?
The ECC has a range of disciplinary content, including business, humanities, social sciences, law, technology, music, and physical and life sciences. The ECC is weak in STEM content, however, with several core resources missing. For example, the ECC does not include the most recent six years of the journals Science or Nature. Neither does it include the top science journal database, Elsevier’s ScienceDirect or the key resource for chemistry majors and faculty, American Chemical Society Journals.
How is the ECC being used?
This material is used for faculty and student research, creation and completion of course assignments, information literacy instruction, and a variety of other faculty, student, and staff projects. In 2017-18, there were over 17 million full-text downloads from all library databases procured by the CSU Chancellor’s Office, including the ECC.
If a resource is not included in the ECC, how do students and faculty at CSU campuses get access?
In some cases, individual CSU libraries subscribe to core resources not included in the ECC, which may be accessed by just those campus users. In other cases, particularly at smaller or less-resourced campuses, the individual library cannot subscribe to all core, necessary resources. Those students and faculty must rely on interlibrary loan, a slower, more onerous process and limited by copyright restrictions on quantity, or do without. This creates educational opportunity inequities between CSU campuses, and these access gaps have grown over time.
Does the system save money by purchasing content consortially for the ECC rather than individually by campus?
Yes. Savings for system-wide subscriptions vary but buying as a system is almost always less expensive.
How has the ECC been affected by stagnant funding and subsequent erosion of buying power?
With stagnant funding over the last ten years, there has been a loss of approximately $1 million of buying power due to inflation alone. Unfortunately, subscription price increases have exceeded the inflation rate during that time period, so loss of buying power is actually much higher. For example, Elsevier recently claimed its average annual price increases were among the lowest in the industry at 5% per year. Using Elsevier’s estimate as a minimum, loss of ECC buying power in ten years would be a minimum of $3.4 million.
With at least $3.4 million loss of purchasing power, the core collection has had to be modified over time in order to stay within the $5 million budget, pushing the costs of core information resources onto individual campuses, with many campuses losing access altogether. A recent example is the cancellation of LexisNexis Academic Universe—an online service composed of approximately 5000 full text legal, news, reference, and business sources—in 2017. Nineteen campuses were not able to retain subscriptions to LexisNexis.
See the full list of databases that have been cut from the ECC at the bottom of this document.
What’s happening with the ECC budget for 2019-2020?
The ECC is facing more than $600,000 in cuts in 2019-20, as reserves from other budget areas that have been used in past years to cover this overage have been spent down to zero. This underfunding will translate to dropping subscriptions to several core research databases.
What budget increases are needed to make the ECC whole?
Increasing the ECC to $10 million would address losses in purchasing power from ten years of stagnant budgets. Increasing the ECC to $15 million would allow the system to expand access to new types of content not included in the ECC to date, such as streaming media.
What would the CSU libraries do with increased funding?
While decisions about ECC content are made via a shared governance process, there are several options that would serve the entire CSU system. Several core databases and journal collections that the majority of campuses pay for individually could be added. Subscriptions to emerging and in-demand content types could also be added.
What would it cost to make the ECC whole?
For the equivalent of $10 more per student in general funding, the ECC will provide fair and equitable access to core information resources for all CSU students and faculty, and restore access to fundamental resources for science, business, and legal research.
What will happen if we maintain the status quo in the ECC?
Without increased funding, the ECC will continue to shrink, information access inequities will grow across the CSU, and opportunities for system-wide purchasing efficiencies will be lost.
What specific databases are included in the 2018-19 ECC?
- ABI/Inform (business)
- Academic Search/Business Source Premier
- Academic Complete eBooks
- ACLS (humanities eBooks)
- America History & Life/Historical Abstracts
- Biological Abstracts
- CINAHL Complete (nursing)
- Communication & Mass Media Complete
- CQ Researcher
- Dissertations & Theses Abstracts
- Ethnic NewsWatch
- Global Newsstream (regional, national, international news)
- Grove (Oxford) Music
- JSTOR (13 collections) (humanities)
- MLA Intl. Bibliography (humanities)
- Mergent (business)
- Oxford English Dictionary
- Project Muse (humanities)
- PsycInfo / PsycArticles
- Safari (technology eBooks)
- Sociological /Social Services Abstracts
What specific material has been cut from the ECC since 2010?
- Encyclopedia Britannica
- Factiva (news, business)
- Grove’s Art
- Hoovers and Oxford Research (business)
- Lexis Nexis (legal, news, business)
- Philosopher’s Index
- Rand California
In addition, the following databases were previously partially funded via the ECC. In 2013, that funding was eliminated.
- American Institute of Physics Journals
- American Chemical Society Web Editions
- Elsevier Science Direct
- Wiley Interscience
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