While it is the best of times in the variety of appropriate items available for purchase from a materials budget, it is the worst of times in the adequacy of those budgets. Many external factors impinging on library budgets have eroded buying power until both steady-state and moderately increasing budgets have become de facto retrenchment budgets. In such a situation, the budget manager must choose between cutting some programs and reducing all programs, possibly to a level of mediocrity. One new program, frequently targeted for cutting, is funding of online searching from the materials budget. Philosophically, the online search serves legitimate educational and research needs and should be funded from the print materials budget. Practically, online searches allow resource-poor institutions to fulfill user demands more completely. The example of one research library reacting to a budget reduction is provided. Relationships between freedom of information and the continuance of democracy are noted.