The Dalhousie Libraries are implementing a journal subscription cost reduction program in 2016/17. We will be consulting with faculty and students before we make any changes.
The Dalhousie Libraries’ collections budget will increase by two per cent in 2016/17; however, vendors and publishers continue to increase prices of subscriptions on average by more than two per cent annually. While we are thankful that the collections budget is protected from cuts and we are receiving a two percent budget increase, the budget is still not sufficient to keep up with the rising costs of subscriptions.
In addition to the annual inflation of subscription costs from publishers, 85 per cent of the materials the Dalhousie Libraries purchase are priced in US dollars. When the Canadian dollar drops a penny, the Libraries lose $100,000 in buying power. We are very fortunate that Dalhousie provides additional funds to recover most of the buying power we lose due to the low Canadian dollar.
We will be spending approximately $7 million on collections in the 2016/17 academic year. Despite both the two per cent budget increase and the additional funds from Dalhousie to cover the low buying power of the Canadian dollar, we anticipate a collections budget shortfall in 2016/17 if we were to maintain the same level of subscriptions. The University requires each unit to balance the budget and we cannot run a deficit.
All current subscriptions are under review and we will be gathering input from faculty and students through surveys and discussions as we make decisions together about which subscriptions to retain. In evaluating subscriptions for retention we are considering user input, usage data, bibliometric data, impact to the curriculum, impact to research, content duplication, and cost.
Roughly half of the Libraries’ collections budget supports large, expensive journal and database subscriptions. These journal packages—“big deals”—bundle together hundreds of journals appealing to a wide variety of disciplines at a discounted price. In these packages, lesser-used titles are often bundled with more popular, heavily used resources, driving up both the number of titles in each package, as well as the cost. Despite the discounts, packages cost between $7,000 and more than $1.4 million each, annually. A team of Dalhousie librarians has been evaluating these subscriptions since January to identify potential cost savings. One of these packages is up for renewal this fall: Taylor & Francis, which contains approximately 2,000 titles.
The Libraries routinely review subscriptions to make sure that we work within our budget while providing students and faculty with appropriate learning, teaching, and research materials. Given the anticipated budget shortfall, librarians will be consulting extensively with faculty and students this summer and fall to identify which titles from the Taylor & Francis package should be retained. If a subscription to a particular title is cancelled, specific articles will still be available to users through other databases or through the Libraries’ Document Delivery service. As a result, we don’t anticipate leaving library users without access to content they need.
You may be asked to complete more than one survey as part of this review since we are looking for your input both on the Taylor & Francis package, a large electronic resource covering multiple disciplines, and on discipline-specific subscriptions for the Killam and Kellogg Libraries. Your response on both surveys is valuable to us and we appreciate your participation in this process.
Dalhousie Liaison Librarians and Associate University Librarians attend your departmental and faculty council meetings regularly, and we are pleased to make presentations, answer questions, and hear concerns at these meetings, or at special meetings, at your request. We also present collections information at various Library Advisory Committee meetings. If your Faculty doesn’t have a Library Advisory Committee, please let me know if you would like to set one up.
Please contact us if you have questions about the Dalhousie Libraries’ collections budget or about journal subscriptions at Dalhousie.