42 Research Library Issues 292 — 2017 This Is a Story about a Collections Budget Hannah Sommers, Associate University Librarian, The George Washington University Part I Never mind that our senior leadership team spent months puzzling through how to live with a leaner operating budget. We scrutinized the organization from every angle, challenging ourselves to run difficult scenarios, to disagree, and then to commit to a plan. There were trying moments, but together we resolved to lead from a place of courage and optimism. The fiscal climate challenged us to be as imaginative as possible even though reductions were unavoidable. But this is not a story about laying people off. This is a story about one piece of the overall budget pie. A portion that was exempted from cuts: a special, protected slice. Given that, one might assume this is a story of success, a happy story. It’s not. Or at least it wasn’t in the beginning. This is a story about a collections budget. Part II At first the exemption from cuts to collections brought measured relief. It was good to know that the message about runaway inflation had been understood by university administration. We planned renewals spending using cost-per-use metrics and other data. In the interest of stronger fiscal stewardship we worked hard to integrate decisions about areas of library collections that had often been treated separately. Breaking down communication silos was a goal, so we experimented with several modes Association of Research Libraries One might assume this is a story of success, a happy story. It’s not. Or at least it wasn’t in the beginning.