Journal Cancellations: Request for Feedback

October 12, 2020

The Stewart Library is dedicated to providing access to high quality information resources for Weber State University's students, faculty, and staff. The current budget climate and publisher pricing models require that we cancel some subscriptions in the short term and work towards a more sustainable collection model in the long term.

Collection Priorities

Stewart Library's collection philosophy is aligned with Weber State University's values and core themes of learning, access, and community. As a teaching-intensive institution, our primary focus is to support student learning with library materials that are integral to program and course curricula. We collect at the Library of Congress Collection Policy Instructional Support Level:

  • A collection that in a university is adequate to support undergraduate and most graduate instruction, or sustained independent study; that is adequate to maintain knowledge of a subject required for limited generalized purposes, of less than research intensity. It includes a wide range of basic monographs, complete collections of works of more important writers, selections from the works of secondary writers, a selection of representative journals, and reference tools and fundamental bibliographical apparatus pertaining to the subject. 

The library also supports faculty research through purchases, journal subscriptions, discovery tools, and rapid document delivery. We rely on partnerships with research-intensive libraries in the state and region to ensure that faculty and students get these specialized research resources, including access to older materials that they retain for long-term preservation.

Current Climate

The Collection Management team assesses the usage of our collections annually, investigates new publishing and discovery models, and evaluates changing user needs. This year we are faced with additional budget pressures that will require some changes to our journal subscriptions. These circumstances include:

  • A university wide budget cut due to COVID-19.
  • Annual journal price increases. We were able to absorb these increases over the last few years by cancelling a large package of journals from Wiley and going to a single-use token purchase model. Journal price increase, on average, between 3-5% per year, which is unsustainable even with a flat budget.
  • Increase demand for streaming videos becuase of the shift to online classes. Current copyright law allows faculty to show a DVD in a physical classroom, but it does not allow streaming in an online class without the required copyright fees.
  • Increased demand for electronic course materials in response to COVID-19. We cannot provide print copies of textbooks and other course materials for short loan periods, because of sanitation protocols. When possible, given severe publisher restrictions, we are purchasing electronic materials to reduce barriers for students and promote more equitable access to a Weber State University education.

Proposed Budget Strategy

For the past two decades, libraries have subscribed to "Big Deal" journal packages offered by major publishers. These deals provided bundled access to all or most of a publisher's journal titles at a fixed rate. These packages offered predictable price increases and reduced the staff time needed to manage individual subscriptions. Big Deals have become an unsustainable model, however, because price increases have outpaced inflation and library budgets. Initial cost savings have been eaten away by regular cost increases, and, like cable TV packages, Big Deals restrict libraries' ability to cancel little used content. Big Deal pricing is often based on the "historic spend" rather than on the actual use and value of particular titles to an institution.

Many academic libraries are cancelling their Big Deals and moving to a model that mixes a smaller subset of highly-used journals, rapid document delivery and individual article purchases, and greater use of open access copies of journal articles.

Given budget constraints and a commitment to building and maintaining a high-quality instructional-level collection, Stewart Library is considering cancelling the following large journal packages and moving to select individual subscriptions. 

  • Emerald Insight
  • Title List
  • Perpetual access to many journals dating back to 2009 will be retained.
  •  
  • Sage Journals
  • Title List
  • Perpetual access to many journals dating back to 2015 will be retained.

These packages include a significant number of low-use journals and high cost per use titles. Cancelling these journal packages does not mean that content will be inaccessible. We will continue to subscribe to high-use journals on an individual basis. We will continue to provide robust search tools (indexing databases, such as Scopus, that enable you to search for citations and abstracts) and direct links to request articles through InterLibrary Loan and other document delivery options. We will also retain perpetual access to the content for the years that we subscribed to these journal packages.

For more information and to provide feedback on the proposed cancellations, please contact your subject librarian or Wendy Holliday, wendyholliday@weber.edu, Dean of the Library.