Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Dealing with the aftermath of cancellations

Due to factors beyond the immediate control of our library, we had to reduce our materials budget for this current fiscal year by about one-seventh.  This was my initiating into collections management, essentially cutting journals and databases.  For journals, key factors involved in making decisions on what to cut included:

  • Usage
  • Length of embargo from aggregator
  • Cost  (both total cost and cost-per-use)
Although we had worked with our subject liaisons and had communicated the cuts to the faculty through both the liaisons and our dean, it has only been since January when they've really taken notice.  This is because of the inevitable delays between release of the final budget and actual elimination of service.  One such incident provides a good example.

We had decided to cancel the subscription to Proceedings of the National Academies of Science (PNAS) primary because our $3000+ subscription fee was paying for only six months worth of content, and about 20-25% of these articles were Open Access.  The copyright fee for PNAS is $2.00 - a quick glance at the articles in PNAS (research articles) suggests an average article length of about 8-10 pages.  It would take, then, about 150 ILL requests to make up for the cost (OK, less than that if you factor in indirect costs of ILL, but you get the point).  Indeed, there had only been one ILL request for a PNAS article this year.  

Yet, our liaisons are hit by (admittedly a vocal few) irate faculty who are indignant that we would not have a current subscription.  I hope the liaisons inform these reasonable people of the factors involved.  I wish we could include this information in a Notes field in the MARC record -- maybe they'd read it, maybe not.  

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