September 2020 Subscription Update

September 2020 Subscription Update

FY2021 Cancellations

Following the 2019-20 subscription review process, the Libraries is cancelling 187 subscriptions for the 2020-21 fiscal year. This includes 20 databases and one subscription e-book package, whose end dates vary and can be found in the 2019-20 Subscription Reductions Final spreadsheet. The FY2021 cancellations also include 99 single-subscription journals and 64 journals from Western’s Elsevier package. Journal titles will cease January 1, 2021, though Western will retain back content from previous years of our subscriptions.

Starting in 2021, we will also be adding three new subscriptions that were requested during the 2019-20 process.

FY2022 Cancellations

The Libraries is working actively with the Provost’s Office to explore sustained mitigation strategies. However, without sustained financial solutions, we will need to identify as much as $164,000 in further cancellations this year.* These reductions are the result of ever-increasing subscription costs. Even with a stable library budget, inflation on subscriptions makes it impossible to maintain all existing commitments.

To meet this year’s target, we will be reviewing all subscriptions except for a handful of resources funded by recent decision packages and a small number of packages on multi-year contracts. This will include subscriptions that were selected for retention last year.

This year’s subscription review process will include several major journal packages from prominent academic publishers: American Chemical Society, Duke University Press, Elsevier, Emerald, Oxford University Press, SAGE, and Taylor & Francis. Cumulatively these packages represent almost $500K in ongoing commitments—or between a quarter and a third of the subscription budget. Packages greatly complicate the subscription review process since they tie the fate of zero-use, low-value journals (package “filler”) to higher-use, higher-value titles. Decisions we might make regarding individual, a-la-carte titles may not be financially feasible in the context of a package. In some cases, certain titles may not even be available outside of a package. We will be asking for feedback about package titles so that we can make the strongest decisions possible; however, we may ultimately be limited in terms of what feedback is actionable.

You can read more about the 2020-21 process below. If you have questions about the upcoming reductions, reach out to your Subject Team.

*This amount is larger than previous projections due to unexpectedly high pricing on a 2021 journal package renewal.

What to Expect 2020-21

The 2020-21 subscription review process will follow a similar timeline and structure to the 2019-20 process. Faculty can expect outreach and support from Western’s faculty librarians throughout the year to help navigate this difficult undertaking.

In fall quarter, Libraries personnel will meet with departments, governance groups, and students to discuss the subscription landscape and Western’s values, preferences, and needs. We are also gathering and analyzing quantitative and qualitative data on all subscriptions in order to generate a preliminary list of potential cancellations.

In winter quarter, the Libraries will share a first draft of the potential cancellation list and solicit feedback from faculty, staff, and students via individual survey. Librarians will also meet with departments and institutes to explore retention requests more deeply. This stage is the Libraries’ opportunity to gather additional qualitative input to supplement earlier quantitative and qualitative components of the subscription review.

Throughout late winter and early spring quarter, librarians will review this qualitative input and collaborate on revisions to the draft cancellation list. Final recommendations will go from the librarians to Libraries Administration in early May, with final authorization due from Admin by the end of May. Announcements to campus will follow shortly thereafter.

As we move through the year, use this page and the menu at the left to get the latest information. You can also reach out to the Libraries’ Subject Teams.