To:            Executive Vice Presidents, Chancellors, Vice Presidents, Vice Chancellors, Vice Provosts, Deans, Directors and Heads of Schools, Divisions, Departments and Offices 

From:       James L. Mullins, Dean of Libraries & Esther Ellis Norton Professor

Date:        October 10, 2016

Re:           Research Databases/Journal Budget Review


On behalf of Purdue University, Libraries negotiates with vendors and publishers to provide access to research databases and journals to advance Purdue’s world-changing research and transformative instruction.  Access to journal and database subscriptions, require annual, continued funding.  Each year vendors and publishers increase the cost of their databases and journals between 4% to 8%.  This is especially true of the very large science and engineering publishers. This is an unavoidable cost that all libraries face annually.

In October, 2015, the Provost’s Office held a forum on the challenges confronting Universities in general, and Purdue specifically, by these annual cost increments.  At the forum, faculty and associate deans for research from each college and school learned more about this challenge.  Options in the long term were discussed such as open access in order to break the monopoly now held by a number of vendors and publishers; however, for the short term no viable option was identified.  At the end of the forum the attendees were asked to vote whether this unavoidable annual cost increment should be considered by the University as the “cost of doing business,” it was passed unanimously.

For 2016/17, using our best estimates, we requested $659,448 (5%) to meet the expected cost increment.  However, the University administration was only able to partially meet this need by allocating $294,586 (2.2%).  While this will cover a major portion of the increased cost for this year, it is likely there will be a short-fall by the end of the 2016/2017 year.

Therefore, during 2016/2017, we will assess what measures can be taken to remain within this more limited budget.  Beginning this fall, Libraries faculty and staff will evaluate expenditures for research databases and journals.  Aspects to be considered will include: overlap with other resources; overall cost and inflation rates for specific information resources and/or publishers; usage statistics; research value; and, contractual obligations to maintain subscriptions. Once this data is compiled, Libraries faculty will begin to work with colleagues in academic departments/schools to determine which resources could be cancelled.  The review and assessment this year will not only enable staying within the budget for 2016/2017 but prepare, if necessary, for the cancellation of subscriptions for 2017/2018.  During this academic year, each academic department/school will be contacted by its Libraries’ faculty liaison.

The University Library Committee (a University Senate Committee) and its chair, Sylvie Brouder, Professor of Agronomy, is aware and monitoring the situation.

If you or others in your college/school have questions or comments, please direct them to me,; Rebecca Richardson, assistant dean for collections and access,; or Sylvie Brouder, chair, University Library Committee,