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MOMENTUM
A Web Letter from the Office of the Provost - February 2020

By Mary Jane Chew

Across Our Campus

Libraries reviewing publications subscriptions

Each year, Purdue University Libraries and School of Information Studies negotiates with publishers and vendors to provide access to the databases and journals that advance Purdue University’s world-changing research and transformative instruction. Purdue currently spends about $14.5 million annually on databases and journals. 

“Unfortunately, the cost of these resources rises by 4-8% annually, far outpacing the rate of inflation and the realistic constraints of university budgets,” said Beth McNeil, dean of Libraries and School of Information Studies and Esther Ellis Norton Professor of Library Science. “When we negotiate with publishers, we seek contracts that are affordable, sustainable, and transparent, but sometimes publishers insist on significant increases that far exceed available funding.”

Purdue is not alone in challenging these unsustainable increases. Academic libraries of all sizes across the nation face the same reality. For example, see news from University of California at Berkeley, University of North Carolina, University of Oklahoma, Kansas State University, and University of Iowa .

McNeil says Purdue has dealt with this problem for years, creatively minimizing the impact of subscription cancellations on faculty and students while continuing good faith negotiations. Two years ago, Purdue cancelled approximately $270,000 in journal and database subscriptions. This past year, through stopgap strategies like curbing book and digital archive purchases, Purdue was able to avoid cancelling more. Unfortunately, to remain within budget and be good stewards of University funds, 2020 will bring with it a significant cut to subscription resources, with a current target of cancelling $540,000 worth of titles.

McNeil acknowledges that cancelling subscription titles creates challenges for our faculty, researchers, and students.

“Every effort will be made to retain the most heavily used subscriptions,” she said. “We will help find alternate means of accessing information whenever possible, and encourage the use of services like Interlibrary Loan and UBorrow. We will deliver more articles upon request, in lieu of a reliance on institutional subscriptions.”

The Libraries staff are gathering data on subscription costs, usage, and cost/use analysis of each title. In February they will post a list of titles for potential cancellation on the Libraries website. The list will include titles that have been identified as underused, cost prohibitive, or easily obtained through less expensive means. The Purdue campus community will have the opportunity to provide feedback and suggestions via the Libraries website, and this input will be considered when the cancellation list is finalized in late spring 2020.

If you have questions about the review process or upcoming cancellations, please contact Rebecca A. Richardson, assistant dean for Collections and Access.



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