With the 2018-2019 academic year under way, the Libraries is busy with a variety of new and ongoing collections projects.
As usual, the Libraries will continue its annual practice of evaluating journal subscriptions and cancelling titles with three-year cost-per-use above $100. Last spring, the Libraries identified 22 high cost-per-use titles, which will cease effective January 1, 2019. Per review practices established with the Senate Library Committee, any cancellations for 2020 will be identified during winter quarter and announced for feedback before the end of the academic year.
The Libraries is also launching a new effort to evaluate subscription databases. Unlike our annual journal evaluation process, which is intended to surface titles for cancellation, the database evaluation is exploratory in nature. There is no immediate need for database cancellations—making this the ideal time to build a foundation for assessment. Based on a model used by the Virtual Library of Virginia, the project aims to incorporate a variety of metrics—not just cost-per-use—into a holistic evaluation of each database. We hope the results will shed light on the relative value of our database subscriptions and leave us poised to make stronger, more data-informed decisions in the future. The Libraries will be consulting with Senate Library Committee throughout the process to ensure that metrics reflect the values of the Western community.
Lastly, the Libraries is working to resolve ongoing contract negotiations with Elsevier for the renewal of Western’s journal subscriptions. At a minimum, the Libraries hopes to preserve current access to content while maintaining a sustainable bottom line; however, there may be opportunities for expanded content and financial savings long term. Specifically, the Libraries is considering a subscription to Scopus—Elsevier’s alternative to Web of Science—as one way to secure more favorable and sustainable licensing costs for Elsevier journal titles. Were the Libraries to proceed with a subscription to Scopus, the current subscription to Web of Science would be phased out at the end of 2020, resulting in a significant cost savings long term for the University. To help inform the decision, the Libraries facilitated a university-wide trial of Scopus in spring 2018 and solicited feedback from students, faculty, and staff. The Libraries will consult with the Senate Library Committee and the Provost’s Office in making a final decision. While the exact details remain to be determined, we expect that a new contract will start January 1, 2019.