Volume 2 Number 2
Database Cost Information
|Campus Administrator: "So,
tell me again how much money you're saving by sending some of your admittedly inadequate
library budget to Albany for this SUNYConnect project?"
Librarian: "Well, we're getting all these really nice databases which we probably couldn't afford on our own."
Administrator: "Yes, but do you know what they would cost compared to what we're spending to get them from SUNYConnect?"
Librarian: "No, I have to admit I really don't."
Database pricing is complex and no two vendors approach it the same way. In fact, as you will see, even the same vendor will price different products according to different models. With that caveat, "let's do the numbers." All prices are for the current fiscal year ending on June 30, 2000.
SUNYConnect provides three products from the Gale Group. The first is Expanded Academic ASAP, formerly from IAC. The SUNY-wide cost for this is $188,000 for unlimited use. If that cost were divided equally among the 59 SUNYConnect campuses, the cost per campus would be $3,186. If shared on an FTE basis, the cost would be about 66 cents per FTE.
The least expensive way for a library to purchase Expanded Academic ASAP on its own would be to pay $2,360 so that ONE student could use the database at any one time. To purchase unlimited, simultaneous use (as SUNYConnect has done), the cost for a single library would range from $9,750 to $39,000, depending on the size of the library's materials budget (Institutional Research publication #357, p.12) . If purchased separately, the SUNY-wide cost of this one database would be $1,680,900 (based on 1996 budget figures, the latest available). In other words, SUNYConnect is providing Expanded Academic ASAP at a savings of nearly $1.5 million.
The other two Gale Group products provided by SUNYConnect are somewhat more simply priced. They are Associations Unlimited (National Module) and Literature Resource Center. The cost to SUNYConnect for these products is $25,934 and $209,074, respectively. If the combined cost of $235,008 were shared SUNY-wide on an FTE basis, it would amount to about 83 cents per FTE. For a single library to purchase Associations Unlimited, the cost would be $1,611 per year. This is not dependent on the library's budget or on their FTE count. The cost for Literature Resource Center would be $5,995 per year on the same basis. In other words, if each SUNY library were to purchase these products on its own, the total cost system-wide would be $95,049 and $353,705, respectively, or $448,754 combined. Again, SUNYConnect is providing these two databases at a significant savings. In this case, to the sum of $213,746.
The other SUNYConnect databases, in addition to the three Gale products discussed, are the FirstSearch Base Package and CARL UnCover Reveal. Britannica Online is excluded since our subscription has been cancelled. The total current year cost for all SUNYConnect databases is $734,589. If the campuses had purchased those same databases on their own, the total cost would have been $2,466,984. In other words, SUNYConnect has provided them at a savings of over 1.7 million dollars.
As impressive as those figures are, the real benefit to individual library budgets is even better. That's because the Office of Library & Information Services is picking up a substantial part of the cost. The campus contributions to SUNYConnect databases amount to $212,649. This sum was generated by the FTE-based fee assessed for the first time this year. The remaining cost of $521,940 is being absorbed by the ALIS/OLIS budget. So in fact, SUNY libraries are receiving databases with a "retail" value of about $2.5 million for a direct cost of less than one tenth that amount. Such savings are a powerful argument for the SUNYConnect model of database purchasing as well as for SUNY-wide cooperation.