Faculty member makes library subscription a condition of hire

So yesterday I learned about a faculty member who recently made a particular request a condition of their hire to a college.  I will admit that although I am unaware of the practice it is possible that this is common.  The sticky part of this situation, as I understand it, is that the hiring committee agreed to this condition.  It was that the college subscribe to a particular professional association.  The subscription is about $2400 a year.  And apparently the expectation is that this $2400 a year will come out of the library’s budget.  However, no library staff were on this hiring committee and no one in the library was consulted about this prior to it being agreed to.  After many conversations regarding this by the library director, apparently the library is still expected to pay that $2400 each year.  Just to appease the inclinations of one faculty member.  So why wasn’t the director consulted earlier?  Why didn’t anyone bother to ask if the library had the money in their budget for this?  And here we are in 2014, on the heels of recession, when libraries are desperately trying to make the most of their existing budgets and having to make extremely tough decisions on which resources to cut because there just isn’t enough money for everything.  And yet, some folks, in another part of the college, who clearly don’t understand what kinds of budget constraints their library is undergoing, agree to impose a new $2400 line item on that already strained budget.  Forgive me.  I’m confused.  How is this ok?  Again, maybe I am unaware of a common practice on other campuses.  But, how is it ok for individuals, who do not have control over the library’s budget, to decide how it is spent?  And seemingly to please just one person?  And how many people, beyond this one, will this benefit?  That remains to be seen.  And why isn’t this subscription cost coming out of this particular department?  I fail to understand how this is fine to do.  Would students in all the other departments, besides the one that decided this, be happy about such a decision?  What resources will we have to cut for them as a result of this new $2400 line item?  Would faculty in other departments be happy about this?  Would faculty who have spent years asking for particular journal subscriptions, who have been denied because they are so expensive, be happy about this?  I don’t know.  I will remain confused.

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