University spends millions of dollars annually on library databases

Ceci Taylor

Every year, Colorado State University spends a significant amount of money to provide students and faculty with access to research databases on the Morgan Library website.

“Last year the library spent just over one million dollars,” Allison Level, coordinator of collections at the Morgan Library, said. “Which is a lot of money but there are a lot of databases over all the subjects and the research areas for campus.”


Meg Brown-Sica, assistant dean of scholarly communications, said that the one million CSU spends doesn’t include other journals that might be online or electronic books. In total, the library spends up to nine million dollars on everything they provide, Brown-Sica said.

“They’re important to have available for students and professors in order to do research because they include collections of peer-reviewed journals, trade publications, industry standards, data sets, and other academic publications that contain research and information so people can do research for classes,” Brown-Sica said. 

Level said that it’s also important because they provide authoritative information for students and faculty researchers.

For example, some databases for primary sources contain resources and items such as letters or diaries that are helpful for history students and professors, Level said.

Brown-Sica said that the databases get updated regularly, and are up-to-date for whenever a student or faculty member needs to use them.

“It’s important to have the materials that are current and are easy to use, and the databases have features that Google doesn’t have,” Brown-Sica said.

Brown-Sica added that databases are usually run by publishers or professional organizations, and individual publishers are responsible for updates. The library is connected to their databases, and they are paid money in exchange for their updates and services.

“Some databases are news databases, so those are updated every day,” Level said. “Other databases are updated weekly, some monthly.”

Brown-Sica said the library’s search engine, Primo, recorded over three million searches last year. She said that it’s not possible to know exactly who is making the searches, or which databases are mainly being used, but a good number of people are using the databases on campus.

Brown-Sica said they are always looking for ways to inform students about the databases that they have, since so much money is spent on them.


“We do go into the CO 150 classes, but not everyone takes that,” Brown-Sica said. “We also do instruction in other courses as requested by professors. We have a lot of information on our website, but we’re always trying to find new ways to publicize what we have because we do spend a lot of money on it and we want people to use it.”

Level suggested that students look to the Morgan Library website for specific help on research.

“In the library guides there’s a section for databases,” Level said. “Students can go in to find information that the librarian has put together based on what their major is or what their course is, and that’s really nice.”

Level also said that students can get help with research from the help desk in the library; they can suggest databases and give research tips to students. She also said that there’s a chat service called “Ask us” on the library website.

Megan Valliere, a political science major at CSU, said that she learned about the library databases from her first-year honors recitation class, and she’s used them often since.

“I have a research paper every couple of weeks,” Valliere said. “Sometimes it can be frustrating because they don’t have exactly what I need, but most of the time they do.”

Brown-Sica said that librarians are always willing to help students or professors out for any database related questions. 

“We’re always welcome to talk to groups of people, classes, professors, student groups about what we have,” Brown-Sica said. “We’re more than happy to help if people contact us for reference appointments. If people are working on a paper or project they can make an appointment with a librarian who is a specialist in that area, we’re more than happy to help.”

Ceci Taylor can be reached at or on Twitter @cecelia_twt.