Subscription Review – September 2019 Update

Subscription Review – September 2019 Update

Subscription Review & Other Collections Projects – September 2019 Update

As we move into the 2019-20 academic year, the Libraries is gearing up for a variety of collections-related initiatives.


Last spring, the Libraries completed its annual journal evaluation and identified 18 high cost-per-use titles for cancellation at the end of December 2019. In addition to these titles, we will be negotiating a renewal with Elsevier and anticipate cancelling roughly a dozen low-value Elsevier titles in order to avoid a substantial cost increase. The Libraries will share further details about the Elsevier renewal and any resulting cancellations throughout the fall.

The Libraries’ Subscription Task Force will reconvene early in fall quarter to resume its work on a sustainable, systematic, and comprehensive plan for evaluating and managing journal and database subscriptions. The Task Force’s immediate priorities will include reviewing data on the university’s hundred-plus subscriptions, developing a plan for university feedback, and finalizing an interim report for public dissemination. Subsequent tasks include working with the university community to develop future cancellation scenarios, planning for the ongoing and sustainable review of library subscriptions, and developing methods for adding new subscriptions in the future.

Physical Collections

In addition to monitoring subscriptions closely, the Libraries is actively managing physical collections. Immediate goals include boosting access to and usability of collections, optimizing use of space in the stacks and planning for future collections growth, and providing more appropriate spaces to meet Western’s diverse student needs. Over the past year, we have begun deduplicating print collections systematically, retaining multiple copies of only the most-used titles. The result is a more streamlined, browsable, and manageable collection. We expect deduplication to continue through 2019-20. As we remove items from the collection, we store them in batches and invite university faculty to review them at the end of each academic quarter. Individuals may request that a title be reinstated or transferred to their department; the next invitation to review deselections will appear in Western Today sometime around the Thanksgiving holiday.

This summer, the Libraries undertook a comprehensive review of the reference collection, which is housed on the second floor of Haggard Hall. Roughly 3,000 items were relocated to the main circulating collection in Wilson where they now enjoy unrestricted circulation and can be browsed alongside other content in their subject areas. Duplicated, superseded, or outdated reference items were removed from the collection and will be included with the withdrawal review at the end of the quarter. The remaining reference collection is significantly streamlined.

The reference review is the first in a series of focused projects aimed at managing spaces and collections more intentionally. The next major undertaking, scheduled for the 2019-20 academic year, will be a targeted deduplication of print periodicals that the university owns in digital format via JSTOR. Because the university perpetually owns its JSTOR content, and JSTOR is a trusted digital repository with long-term preservation guarantees, the university can strategically reduce its periodicals footprint without losing any content. Expect more communications about this initiative in winter and spring quarters.

If you have any questions about journal and database subscriptions, the Subscription Task Force, or physical collections, please contact the Libraries’ Collection Services division or the Director of Collections. We will strive to respond to all queries within five business days.