2020-21 Review Process & Timeline

2020-21 Review Process & Timeline

Drafted February 2020 by the Western Libraries Subscription Task Force | Updated October 2020 by the Western Libraries Scholarly Resources Group 

Starting in 2020-21, the Western Libraries will lead the university through an annual subscription review process. This process will allow the university to manage rising subscription costs and, if necessary, make critical expenditure reductions. Beyond these financial motivations, an annual subscription review will also provide the valuable opportunity to identify new subscriptions for Western’s collections and align library materials more closely with the university strategic plan. This would allow for more timely support for new and emerging programs, development of more inclusive and diverse collections, and better support for interdisciplinary research. 

The annual subscription review process will follow the model of the 2019-20 subscription review, with minor modification based on specific, constructive feedback gathered at the end of the 2019-20 process. The process itself will be reviewed after four years (at the end of 2022-23), once all journal packages have come up for renewal and we have established a baseline of data from which to draw conclusions. 

The process will be implemented by the Libraries’ Scholarly Resources Group (SRG) (consisting of subject librarians and library collections experts) with regular reports to the Senate Library Committee (SLC) for informational purposes. The process will continue to involve a university review period in winter quarter during which all members of the university community can review the draft cancellation list, submit retention requests, or suggest new titles for subscription. The Libraries’ Subject Teams will engage with departments throughout the process, starting in the fall and continuing until decisions have been finalized in late spring. 

The process will include an annual refresh of each subscription’s scorecard. The majority of data will be updated annually as part of this refresh. However, some metrics that are slower to change (e.g. vendor privacy policies) and more labor-intensive to implement (e.g. publisher support of Open Access) will be updated on a biennial basis. Based on each subscription’s updated score, the SRG will identify a draft cancellation list each year. In order to allow for retention requests and new subscriptions, the draft cancellation list should total at least 120% of the target reduction amount during years when funding shortfalls make cancellations necessary or 2% of the subscription budget in years when no cancellations are necessary (in order to free up funds to add new subscriptions). Evaluation must include all journal packages as they are up for renewal.  

Following the creation of the draft cancellation list, students, faculty, and staff will be invited to provide feedback via individual survey. The SRG will review the individual responses; consult with departments and institutes on aggregate, subject-specific trends; and revise the cancellation/acquisition list based on qualitative input. Libraries administration will authorize final retention, subscription, and cancellation decisions.


The Libraries’ Scholarly Resources Group--made up of librarians and other collections experts--began laying the groundwork for the current subscription review process in early 2018. Learn about how this process developed and see important upcoming dates below.

NOTE: We will update this page periodically as new meetings and events are scheduled.


  • Summer Quarter 2020
    • Libraries’ personnel collect and analyze data for more than 100 databases and large packages, 200 single-subscription journals, and over 2500 journals from publisher packages
  • Fall Quarter 2020
    • Libraries begin communicating about 2020-21 process, including broad outreach via governance groups and mass communication channels; department- and institute-level outreach via librarian Subject Teams; and outreach to students
    • The Scholarly Resources Group prepares draft cancellation list based on quantitative and qualitative factors 
  • Winter Quarter 2021
    • Libraries release draft cancellation list, retention survey, and associated communications
    • The Scholarly Resources Group compiles and reviews retention requests
    • Librarians continue working closely with departments, institutes, and students to understand university needs, values, and priorities
  • Spring Quarter 2021
    • The Scholarly Resources Group develops final cancellation recommendations
    • Libraries Administration authorizes final cancellation decisions
    • Libraries communicates decisions via governance groups, mass communication channels, and direct outreach to departments and institutes
    • The Scholarly Resources Group distributes a university-wide survey to gather feedback on the 2020-21 process