Subscription Review - 2019-20 Final Decisions

Subscription Review - 2019-20 Final Decisions

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.


2019-20 Final Cancellation Decisions

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


If you have questions about the cancellation list, the subscription review process, or the feedback survey, email the Libraries’ Collection Services division, Director of Collections and Task Force Chair Madeline Kelly, or your Subject Librarian Team.