Subscriptions Task Force - December 2019 Update

Subscriptions Task Force - December 2019 Update

December 2019 Update

The Subscription Task Force has completed two major stages of its work and is pleased to share an interim report outlining progress to date. Milestones include:

  • In spring 2019, the Task Force worked with stakeholders (including Senate Library Committee) to develop methods for evaluating library subscriptions. The result is a holistic approach that goes beyond just cost-per-use (CPU), combining quantitative and qualitative measures of value.
  • The Task Force surveyed faculty to gather input on subscription review processes, academic publishers, and Open Access. An analysis of survey responses is included in the Task Force’s interim report.
  • Throughout summer and fall 2019, the Task Force gathered data to evaluate and score more than 400 library subscriptions. These scores are based in part on three-year CPU, and in part on factors like overlap with other subscriptions, accessibility to users with disabilities, privacy policies, and more.

 

In January, the Task Force will begin an outreach and feedback campaign to engage the university community in practical conversations about cancellations, using the subscription scores as a starting point. Watch for updates here, via news outlets like Western Today, through faculty governance channels, or directly from your department or college.

For more information on how the Libraries manages journal subscriptions, please read our Subscription Management Glossary and FAQ. If you have questions or concerns, please reach out to Collection Services or Task Force chair Madeline Kelly. We will try to respond to queries as quickly as possible, though a detailed response may take up to 5 business days.


For academic years 2018-19 and 2019-20, the Libraries is convening a new Subscriptions Task Force to develop a sustainable, systematic, and comprehensive plan for evaluating and managing subscriptions that goes beyond mere maintenance and proactively seeks opportunities for change.

The Western Libraries lacks the budget necessary to maintain current subscriptions and address the growing and changing teaching and learning needs of the university community. Inflation on library subscriptions—which averages almost 5 percent annually and vastly outpaces the Consumer Price Index—means that a flat budget is effectively a declining budget, and rising subscription costs crowd out all other collections spending. Even with annual funding to offset inflation, roughly 90 percent of the Libraries’ resource access budget is committed to subscriptions or access fees, leaving just under 10 percent for new one-time purchases and no margin for added subscriptions. The result is that, at best, library subscriptions are static; at worst, they are vulnerable to the slightest change in the budget landscape.

Whether responding to budget reductions and the need for cancellations or simply making space for new subscriptions, a thoughtful, holistic approach to managing subscriptions will allow the Libraries to respond more dynamically to whatever the future brings.

As the Task Force carries out its work over the 2018-19 and 2019-20 academic years, it will be consulting with stakeholder groups and sharing updates and deliverables. In addition to soliciting information via Senate Library Committee, department or college meetings, and other communication channels, you can check this page regularly for the latest Task Force news.

For more information on how the Libraries manages journal subscriptions, please read our Subscription Management Glossary and FAQ. If you have questions or concerns, please reach out to Collection Services or the Director of Collections. We will try to respond to queries as quickly as possible, though a detailed response may take up to 5 business days.