Library Resources - Cancellations - December 14, 2015 Message from the Acting University Librarian


The following message was sent out by the Acting University Librarian on Monday, December 14, 2015

I apologize if the Library's communication regarding cancellations caught many of you off guard and I thank you for weighing in on this whole issue. The situation is a grave one and it is necessary that we all have the debate and discussion regarding something that is not unique to the U of R but is in fact, hitting institutions across North America. I will attempt to clarify a few things in this email, but I would also encourage you to contact me, Barbara Nelke, or your liaison librarian with any additional questions and/or comments.

1.  How did we get to this state?

Two main factors - high inflation costs charged by publishers (6-8% per year) and the fluctuating US exchange rate. Over 80% of our acquisitions are billed in US dollars. Over the past year, we have lost more than 20% of our purchasing power simply due to the fall in the Canadian dollar. We had a taste of this last year, which we were able to cover through fall-in.  However, this is not sustainable.

2.  Why were faculty not consulted regarding the cancellations?

Many of our journal subscriptions are currently part of large packages similar to cable tv packages. In order to address the shortfall in the budget ($500,000), our only real option was to target a couple of these large, expensive packages.  The decision was further constrained by subscription renewal deadlines and the multi-year nature of many subscriptions.   Together, the two multidisciplinary packages identified represent approximately $140,000.  We have usage statistics on the individual titles contained in the packages and we are in the process of taking out subscriptions to the most heavily used titles.  Our plan, was, and will remain, to consult with and listen to faculty regarding which other titles should be reinstated.  Of course, we may not be able to meet all requests.

For those titles we are unable to pick up, we will be providing alternate access through our Interlibrary Loan service, which has an average turnaround time of 48 hours.  We are also investigating other means of procurement such as pay per view. The Library will be covering the cost of these alternate means of access.  We will also continue to have access to the backfiles of many of the journal titles affected.

3.  How are book and other one-time purchases (versus journals) being impacted?

In anticipation of the shortfall this year, the Library limited the purchase of monographs and other one-time purchases in the early fall.  This was the first place we could control our purchasing.  Now that we have identified other areas to cover the shortfall, we have reopened this area of purchasing (on a still limited basis).  If you haven't already begun to do so, please forward your title suggestions to your liaison librarian.

We did identify one large collection of ebooks - Books 24x7 for cancellation.  This was based on the very low usage of what was contained in the package.  Fewer than 30 books out of some 10,000 titles were actually used.  We are in the process of ordering the most heavily used titles and some are already in place.

Books in Print is a bibliographic database used mainly by the Library to find information regarding in print status.  This information can be sourced elsewhere.

4.  What other measures have been taken to address the situation?

In August 2015, University legal counsel advised us to renew our license with Access Copyright for one year in order to allow us the time to have everything in place that would permit us to end the Access Copyright agreement without risk to the institution. We are confident that this will be the case by August 2016. The cost of the renewed license was $172,000, which was $96,000 less than our previous license. The University immediately redirected this savings of $96,000 to the Acquisitions budget (approximately 1/5 of our anticipated shortfall). There is further commitment to redirect the remaining $172,000 which will be freed up in August 2016 when the Access License is not renewed.

5.  Will there be consultation in the future?

The short answer to this is "Yes." I invite you once again to contact me, or Barbara or your liaison librarian.  I would be happy to come out to one of your meetings to listen to your concerns and to determine together how we might best meet the teaching, research and learning needs of this campus.

Acting University Librarian Colleen Murphy