Dear Faculty, January 19, 2022
I would like to update you on the educational resource’s usage assessment project that the University Libraries have been engaged in since the spring 2021 semester. We have concluded our assessment and I want to share the results with you. You may recall that we conducted an exhaustive review of over 90 databases and electronic journal collections to identify the best approach to reducing educational resources expenditures by $300,000 for FY22. After considering various options, we concluded that the most effective way to meet this reduction would be to break up and renegotiate 11 “big deal” journal packages that cost a total $651,927. The extraordinary cost of these packages combined with an average annual increase of 7% for journal subscriptions has made it increasingly difficult for the University to sustain journal subscriptions.
Our goal throughout this assessment project was to continue to subscribe to journals that you identified as essential, then important, and finally desirable, as costs allowed; and to discontinue subscriptions that were seldom or not used. In not renewing select titles, the Libraries are not asking Colleges or Departments to assume the cost of these resources. The Libraries will continue to provide partial, if not complete, full text coverage for many non-renewed titles through GeorgiA Library LEarning Online (GALILEO) and other aggregator database subscriptions. Also, the complete content of all non-renewed titles will continue to be available to faculty and students via Interlibrary Loan (ILL). Furthermore, the Libraries will retain indexing and abstracting for all non-renewed titles. This means that you and your students will continue to be able to discover these resources so that decisions can be made whether to submit an ILL request, or to advocate for the Libraries to renew a particular journal when more funds are available.
During the fall 2021 semester, we asked department chairs to work with you to identify journals you considered essential, important, or desirable for your research and instruction and to provide comments to help us better understand how specific titles should be prioritized for renewal. We received 148 completed feedback forms from a total of 528 forms we sent to 48 departments and programs. The method we used to rank thousands of journal titles consisted of a “use adjusted score,” which combined the departments’ feedback with the average number of article views per title per year. To obtain this score, we used (E * 2 + R) * V where E is the total number of votes for Essential status, R is the total number of votes to Renew, and V is the average number of article Views per year. We then sorted individual titles from highest to lowest ranking within each of the 11 journal packages. We balanced departmental feedback with usage data to ensure that we renewed titles with sufficient usage to justify the cost of subscription while safeguarding lower-use titles of unique you value for your teaching and research, and students' learning and scholarship.
While negotiations with our vendors are ongoing, I anticipate that we should renew the following packages and titles while reducing our educational resources budget by $300,000 for FY22. These renewals are in addition to the extensive list of electronic we previously renewed as part of this usage assessment. Renewals are now underway, and we will update the University community as these changes come into effect over the course of the spring semester. During this time, faculty will likely notice changes in access to certain titles and starting next week, when I notify your ADs and department chairs, they are welcome to communicate access issues to their library liaisons. Please see the FY22 renewed resources tab on this guide for a complete list of journal titles that we renewed and that we discontinued.
I engaged most library faculty and numerous library staff in countless hours of dedication to this project over the past nine months to lessen the impact these budget reductions may have on faculty teaching and research and student learning. Even during these difficult financial circumstances, my focus continues to be to provide access to information, collections, and services designed to meet the scholarly needs of the University and its diverse community. I thank you for your support and I am available to address any concerns or questions that you may have regarding decisions I made about this usage assessment project.
Dear Colleagues, July 15, 2021
As I had shared with the deans this summer, the University Libraries are engaged in an educational resources assessment project of all the resources that we subscribe to on your behalf. This project is driven by the increase in costs of educational resources that averages 5% per year and three years of budget reductions due to enrollment declines and more recently the impact of COVID-19. The result of which, forces us to engage in a budget realignment and sustainability initiative in the University Libraries’ materials budget that is used to purchase the educational resources we subscribe to on behalf of the campus community. FY22 & 23 budgets are now realizing the impacts of the past few years’ enrollment and budget decreases with funding going from ~$3.7M to $3.4M. While we have made a concerted effort over recent years to preserve the materials budget in the face of escalating cost, it is now necessary to reassess some of the educational resources to which we subscribe to meet these considerations.
Since late spring, most librarians and many staff have been engaged in an educational resources usage assessment project that includes the evaluation of all the resources that the University Libraries subscribe to and the impact that these resources have on learning, teaching, research, and program accreditation. Now that the semester is well underway and things have settled down a bit, we are reaching out to you for your help in identifying the resources we should continue to subscribe to and those that we could discontinue.
After much deliberation and reflection this summer, we concluded that the most effective way to meet this budget reduction is by focusing on large journal packages, rather than individual databases, serials, monographs, or other resources that may not be heavily used across campus but that are critical to some smaller departments. We identified 11 large journal packages that we can break down. By breaking down these journal packages we can continue to subscribe to the journals that you identify as critical and necessary and discontinue those that you identify as not used or seldom used. In other words, we need your help in selecting journal titles ala carte from each of the journal packages so that we can renegotiate their costs with the vendors. Vendors offer these large journal packages, such as Sage, Taylor and Francis, and Wiley, that sound like great deals for the institutions due to their multidisciplinary content, but that primarily benefit vendors financially because we must pay for journals that are seldom used or not used at all. Vendors tend to bundle lots of journals into these packages and while some journals are critical and necessary to the educational or research mission of the institution, many are not. Breaking down these large journal packages are known as “big deal cancellations.” The costs of these large journal packages have made it increasingly difficult for academic libraries across the nation to afford to purchase other resources that are truly needed by you and students. You are welcome to learn more about big deal cancellations at SPARC.
The University Libraries’ faculty created this library guide that provides detailed information about this project. Library liaisons will be communicating with department chairs next week to provide further information about the project and the process we developed for collecting your input. We will be asking each department to let us know which journals in their disciplines they would like to continue to subscribe to from each of these 11 large journal packages.
Please understand, the University Libraries are committed to providing the greatest possible access to scholarly resources to the university community. We deeply appreciate your understating and participation in making these unfortunate, but necessary, reductions in resources. My faculty and I are available to meet with you to discuss this project in more detail, so please do not hesitate to contact us.
Lisa Carmichael, PhD
Dean of Libraries