Long ago, I asked the Federal Librarians Discussion List and the NASA Library Managers for input on cost-sharing techniques. Thank you to everyone who responded. You've given us a range of options to present to our users. For those who expressed an interest, here is a summary of responses. 

Cost Sharing at NASA Center Libraries and Other Federal Libraries

NASA Johnson Space Center

The books and journals of the JSC Library are being transferred to the University of Houston at Clear Lake, much to the disappointment and inconvenience of employees there.  Before this started, there were three methods used to transfer funds for library materials.
1. Internal Task Agreement (ITA)  This method was used to transfer funds from other directorates to support their subject-specific satellite libraries. The funds were transferred to the directorate that oversaw the library contract and then put on the contract.
2. Obligation Authority Purchase Request (OAPR)   This was used for the library to purchase materials for other offices that were then kept in those offices.  It was offered that this would have been a good cost savings device if the materials were kept on reserve in the library, eliminating the need for many multiple copies.
3. Purchase Request (PR)  This method was used when help was needed from other offices to pay for costly subscriptions. It was not efficient.

Source:  Sue McDonald, 281-483-4045. 
Also may contact: Erlene Reed, 281-483-0396.

NASA White Sands Test Facility

This is a very small library that serves several different agencies in addition to NASA.  Every individual transaction of library service is directly charged back to the customer using charge codes.
All subscriptions for other offices are paid for from individual project task orders.  None of the program offices have provided funds for services that are shared by all programs.

Source: Barry Plante, 505-524-5539, and Jose G. Beltran, <[log in to unmask]>

NASA Dryden Flight Research Center

This is another very small library with almost no budget. “Occasionally we solicit projects to share in library material costs but with budgets as tight as they are, this is often difficult to achieve. Usually we ask them to purchase a specific item we want but lack the allocated funding to buy. This is always an uncertain proposition at best and its success primarily depends on the funding situation of the individual projects at the time we solicit their help. We have had to take a hard line lately and have cut back on some information services to keep within our budget limits. Our serials and journals take up most of our remaining budget. For the last couple of years, our budget has remained fixed while material costs and salaries continue to climb.“

Last year some divisions of code R did find and donate funds for specific journals they needed that the library otherwise would not have been able to afford.

In the past, when Dryden was a part of Ames, some offices contributed funds for specific journal titles.

Source: Ronald J. Ray, (661) 276-3687, Barbara Rogers, [log in to unmask], and George Roncaglia,, 757-864-2374

NASA Ames Research Center

In the past, when Dryden was a part of Ames, some offices contributed funds for specific journal titles.

Source: George Roncaglia,, 757-864-2374

NASA Kennedy Space Center

The Kennedy library does not have program offices contribute money.  However, last fiscal year, the NASA Directorate the library is under did pay KSC's portion of the IEEE electronic subscription because of complications of transferring funds to and from the contract.

Source: Bill Cooper, 321-867-3615, [log in to unmask]

NASA Stennis Space Center

“Stennis Space Center combined its requirements with the Navy Library [Naval Oceanographic Office] on site.  Under this agreement, we fund a part of labor and journal subscription and other services.” 

Source: Vince Andres, SSC Library Monitor, [log in to unmask], (228) 688-3931

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

This library shares the cost of journal subscriptions with its organization’s Research Divisions.  The library's budget pays for approximately 1/3 of the journals (the core titles) that the library receives, or about $35,000.  The Research Divisions pay for 2/3, or about $65,000.  The library and each division places their Purchase Orders using the same subscription agent and the library is given as the "Ship To" address for all the orders.  “Advantage to the researchers is that they select many journals they want the library to receive each year.  As research interests change, journal selections change, so the library may end up with some short runs of journal titles.  But it seems to work for us. We are a library serving a staff of about 500, we subscribe to approximately 250 journals.”    

Source: Barbara B. Landreth, 304-285-5887

National Institutes of Health

“The NIH Library is totally cost recovery.  We have 4 services that generate charges for an institute, one that everyone pays based on their census (number of employees and contractors, and the others are based on a 3 year history of use by institute staff.  We prepare our budget based on demand for these services; it is reviewed and approved by a high level NIH committee representing the institutes; we then send a "statement" in September telling each institute what it owes for its portion of our budget.

About 75% of the budget is recovered for what we call primary library services.  These charges include costs for all print and electronic collections, databases, etc. plus information and technical services staff, circulation staff, the ILS, stacks maintenance, etc. This is the charge that is based on number of actual employees and contractors.  We do this because we cannot easily get actual use data for who is accessing electronic subscriptions and we don't want to do it for reference, instruction or many of the other information services. 

On the other hand we do have good use data by institute for document delivery, use of our self-service copy center and translations.  We add use by institute for the past 3 years and get the average use.  Each institute who used the service in the past 3 years then pays their percentage of our budgeted costs for that service.  Basically we develop a unit cost for each of these services and multiply that by the number of average uses.” 

Source:  Suzanne Grefsheim <[log in to unmask]>

USDA Forest Service

“There are subscriptions I cannot buy unless our projects pay for them.  I have to personally contact each group that I want to contribute to round up the funds.  This does not work well, especially when one group decides to drop out after a year or two and the other groups have to pick up the additional funding.  I only do this for high cost subscriptions or databases.  It is too much hassle otherwise.  After a few years the projects usually try to get the money added to the library budget so that I stop bothering them each year.”

Source: Julie Blankenburg, USDA Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory, One Gifford Pinchot Drive, Madison, WI  53726-2398, [log in to unmask]

Department of Justice

The library purchase legal information products for the whole department and charges a 2% administrative to the offices for the service. Another office handles department-wide contracts for online services and charges the offices a 4% administrative fee, which is still a good deal because of the mass buy.
Source: Blane Dessy, [log in to unmask]

AFRL/VSIL Technical Library, Kirtland AFB

“1. AFRL (11 directorates, 9 technical libraries, 2 sub-sites that use virtual resources only) is seen by the vendor as one entity. Our licenses are signed by one representative of the group, and we all have the same products in the "core" areas of research. AFRL met and decided what these core subscriptions were going to be, approached the vendors, and received one invoice based on our total knowledge worker population. (This is not the entire collection for each library. We each still maintain our own unique collections, but benefit from not having to worry about the largest portions of our budgets.)

2. A few years ago, we would take the invoice and then divide the costs between the sites based on % of users. (i.e. Kirtland had 13% of the total # of users, so we paid 13% of the cost of the invoice.) One site would foot the bill, and the other libraries would reimburse that site for their % of the costs. Now that we have a HQ level office, the subscriptions are paid for straight out of the HQ budget, and the individual sites had budget cuts reflecting the absorption of the costs at the HQ level.

3. Some of our "core" services include the following publishers:
American Chemical Society (ACS), Elsevier, EI- Compendex, IEEE, INSPEC, Institute of Physics (IoP)

4. One of the main drawbacks that we experience is defining what is a "core" subscription or database. Some of our sites are very heavy IEEE users. We have other sites that don't use it as much (if at all). The sites that really aren't interested are still responsible for their share because it is a major benefit to those that do use it. (Now that it is paid for out of the HQ budget, it isn't as big of a deal. Out of sight, out of mind.)

5. AFRL is also a member of a consortium that has good deals and has experience purchasing for bizarre organizations like ours. (They have also become quite experienced at dealing with Government Contracting Offices!) The Alliance for Innovation in Science and Technology Information: www.aisti.org NASA Langley is also a member of this organization, so you might want to contact Corinne Machado, Executive Director for AISTI, ([log in to unmask], 1-888-901-4144) or George Roncaglia at NASA-Langley ([log in to unmask], 1-757-864-2374) for more information on what might be possible for HQ NASA.”

Source: Elizabeth Lisle [log in to unmask], (505)846-7050

DOT Library

“Our users are charged based on usage for research and reference, circulation/ILLs, and periodical routing.  The pros are that usually the heavier users are the larger departments who have more substantial budgets to begin with.  The cons can be the necessity for a lot of record-keeping down to the number of searches level, and the impact on the other customers if any department (especially a larger one) decides not to participate.

I hope this is of some benefit.  I would be interested in what you decide at NASA.  I have been thinking of seeking additional support to purchase specific databases.”

All of our budget comes from this arrangement.  Customers are billed quarterly against an annual total. 

[In response to my question: Have you seen any evidence of the charge-back system discouraging library use?] Yes, at times I understand some offices in a couple of departments have been told to limit their use. 

Source: Linda Cullen <[log in to unmask]>

Andrew Pedrick
NASA Headquarters Library, Manager
NCI Information Systems, Inc.
300 E St. SW, Rm. 1J20
Washington, DC 20546
PH: 202-358-0171
FX: 202-358-3469
[log in to unmask]