Subscription Review History

2021 / 2022

The Western Libraries finalized the outcomes of the 2021-22 subscription review process in Spring of 2022. These changes–which will take effect on January 1, 2023–are part of an ongoing effort to ensure that the university’s subscriptions portfolio remains dynamic and relevant.

In winter quarter, 2022, the Libraries shared a list of 59 existing subscriptions under review and 18 new subscriptions requested by members of the university community. Based on the feedback we received, we will be canceling six (6) existing subscriptions in order to add seven (7) new subscriptions to our collection. Individuals affiliated with Western can log in to review the full list of titles.

We are pleased to share that most of the canceled subscriptions will still be accessible through library databases like Academic Search CompleteCINAHL Complete, and JSTOR. Individual articles not available on other platforms can be acquired through Interlibrary Loan (ILL).

If you have any questions, please reach out to the Libraries’ Subject Teams or contact the Libraries’ Collection Services division. Western students, faculty, and staff can also continue to submit new subscription requests for next year’s review via our New Subscription Request Form.

2020 / 2021

In response to a commitment from the Provost’s Office to provide full, one-time funding for the 2020 / 2021 fiscal year, the Libraries was able to halt cancellations. The much-needed funds allowed us to move from a reactionary stance into a more deliberate, strategic review of our subscription portfolio.

It was a great relief not to have to cancel subscriptions in 2020 / 2021. However, this financial reprieve did not include funding for new subscriptions. Having received many faculty requests for new journals and databases over the years, the Libraries still wished to better align subscription content with Western’s current teaching and research needs. During the 2020-21 subscription review process, some departments requested new subscriptions in place of existing ones. To honor these requests and ensure that the university’s subscription portfolio remained dynamic and relevant, the Libraries moved forward with a small number of request-driven subscription swaps. Our net subscription spending remained the same, but the content itself shifted into closer alignment with the curriculum.

The titles that were cancelled effective January 1, 2022 include:

  • Econometrics Journal (Oxford University Press)
  • Economic Journal (Oxford University Press)
  • Journal of Marketing Research (SAGE)
  • Merrill Palmer Quarterly 
  • Early Music (Oxford University Press)
  • Musical Quarterly (Oxford University Press)


New titles that begin January 1, 2022 include:

  • Representations
  • Philippine Studies Historical and Ethnographic Viewpoints
  • Caribbean Studies
  • Speculum
  • Journal of Financial Education
  • Financial Management
  • Ethnomusicology


This is in addition to new titles added using decision package funds in early childhood education, marine and coastal sciences, and STEM (engineering and design, energy studies, chemistry, and biology).

The Libraries intends to proactively review subscriptions in 2021-22 and explore additional title swaps in order to better meet the university’s ever-changing needs. We intend to maintain net subscription spending; however, if in future biennia the subscription budget is not adequately funded, the Libraries will again need to pursue large-scale subscription cancellations.

The Libraries is grateful for the university’s engagement with the subscription review process this year. We look forward to working with the university community on a long-term and predictable budgeting model that allows for more strategic, sustainable subscriptions in the future.

Don’t hesitate to contact your Subject Team or the Collection Services division if you or your department have questions, concerns, or library needs. We are here for you!

2019 / 2020

The following announcement concerning final cancellation decisions was distributed to all Western faculty in May 2020:

Dear Western Faculty,

On behalf of Academic Affairs, we’d like to thank the Libraries and the Subscription Task Force for the significant and challenging work they’ve done over the past 16 months to bring subscription expenditures into alignment with the library collections budget. This work involved dozens of people both in and outside the Libraries and has been shaped by multiple outreach campaigns and several tours through shared governance channels. We know cancellation decisions are intrinsically difficult, and our colleagues have worked painstakingly to balance needs and resources on behalf of the community.   We write today to share the final list of subscription cancellations for AY2020-21. The list is available to all Western faculty, staff, and students on the Libraries’ subscription review webpage.

During Fall 2019, 252 titles were identified for potential cancellation based on how they scored according to 13 quantitative and qualitative criteria. Of these original 252 titles, we will be retaining 63 titles—47 using the originally planned buffer of $66,000, and an additional 16 titles using Libraries carryforward. These titles will be retained for one year, after which they may again be subject to cancellation. The remaining 189 titles from the original draft cancellation list will be cancelled; the end date for each subscription—and any post-cancellation retention rights—are listed in the cancellation spreadsheet. This list represents a total reduction of approximately $278,000.

Given current financial uncertainties, there are simply not additional one-time funds to use to retain more than the 63 titles mentioned above. Further, any one-time funds applied this year will only increase the scope of reductions for AY2021-22, as those funds are not added to the base budget. By saving 16 titles beyond our original projections, we hope to strike a balance between mitigating this year’s losses and making next year’s worse.

Next academic year, all subscriptions up for renewal will again come under review. Budget pressures are still such that we will need to make annual subscription reductions into the foreseeable future. These pressures include the unsustainability of funding inflationary increases within an increasingly competitive university budget, steeply rising subscription prices, and ongoing publisher consolidation. If the Libraries collection budget remains flat, we project a need for $121,000 in reductions for AY2021-22 and roughly $94,000 each subsequent year.  

Future annual subscription review processes will be implemented internally, by the Libraries, and will follow the same basic schedule as the 2019-20 review. They will include a variety of quantitative and qualitative evaluation criteria, including a period for input from the university community. However, we recognize that there is always room for improvement, and to help ensure the best possible outcomes for next year, the Libraries is looking for constructive suggestions about how the process might be improved. To that end, we invite you to complete a short survey about the AY2019-20 subscription reduction process. The Libraries will use suggestions gathered from this survey to inform future revisions to the process. The survey should take less than fifteen minutes to complete and is due by Sunday, June 14.

Thank you for your ongoing engagement with library subscriptions and the scholarly publishing landscape. We appreciate the interest and encourage faculty to continue connecting with their UPRC and Senate Library Committee representatives, the Libraries’ subject teams, and each other. These challenges will be ongoing, but together we can influence a more sustainable future for subscriptions.

Best wishes,

Provost Brent Carbajal & Acting Dean of Libraries Andy Peterson

UPDATE 5/26/2020: Two additional titles will be retained using decision package funds for the new Marine and Coastal Science program. These titles are Remote Sensing of Environment and Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology.