Subscription Review - March 2020 Update

Subscription Review - March 2020 Update

March 2020 Update

Throughout February and early March, the Task Force heard feedback from across the university regarding the draft cancellation list. We have endeavored to update the Review Timeline and Subscription Review FAQ throughout the quarter to reflect the meetings we attended and the questions we heard.

At the end of the review period, the Task Force received retention responses from 27 departments, including 13 ranked lists, 6 unranked lists, 4 partially ranked lists, and 4 messages from departments with no requests. The total requests include 153 of the 250 subscriptions on the draft cancellation list, plus 6 requests for new subscriptions. The total cost to add back all requested titles and purchase all new titles would be $399,400.

Between now and mid-April, the Libraries’ Scholarly Resources Group (SRG)—made up of librarians and collections experts—will work to prioritize these requests and develop a revised draft cancellation list. At a minimum, the Libraries will be able to retain or add $66,000 in subscriptions. (The actual number may be higher depending on carryforward and emergency funding.)

To help guide the SRG, the Task Force advanced a set of recommendations:

  • Some departments anticipate receiving decision package funding in FY2020-21 and have expressed willingness to use those funds to protect current subscriptions. Librarians should consider this when making retention recommendations.
  • The Task Force recommends keeping the disciplinary breakdown of subscription retentions roughly proportional to the composition of the original draft cancellation list. This will help ensure that subscriptions are reduced equitably across disciplines. This will also allow the librarians to evaluate retention requests within—rather than across—colleges, facilitating more meaningful comparisons.
  • Within each college, the Task Force recommends retaining (or adding) each department’s top-ranked subscription. If this is not possible, other deciding factors could include: the number of departments requesting a particular subscription; the subscription scores; qualitative information submitted via departmental comments; the availability of a resource via interlibrary loan; and the cost of a subscription.
  • The Task Force recommends strongly considering new subscriptions, because they represent a rare opportunity to better support growing and evolving programs and curricula.
  • The Task Force recommends that the librarians consider the needs of interdisciplinary institutes, programs, and centers, which were not explicitly captured during the department-based feedback process.


Because of the possibility of last minute funding, the librarians will prepare to retain at least--but maybe more than--$66,000 in subscriptions. Ideally, the revised cancellation list will include numerical rankings to aid in quick decision-making based on whatever funding comes through.


The Libraries or university may also wish to use some funding to help support university conversations and advocacy around Open Access.

The Task Force submitted its recommendations to the SRG in early March. The SRG will share a revised (but still draft) cancellation list in mid-April.