2015/16 Collection Cost Reduction Strategies Initiative

Background Information

Serials Evaluations Process

Western Libraries is largely using a two-pronged approach to reduce serial expenditures:

1) Centrally Funded Resources: About half of the acquisitions budget is used for centrally funded resources (i.e. not funded by a specific library or unit), which are evaluated by a committee representing many libraries. This committee monitors resources based on their overall cost/use, range in usage, and duplication. In the event of a 'big deal' e-journal package analysis, a resource is recommended for cancellation if the total cost of the individual titles with strong value (lower than the cost/use of inter-library loan) is significantly lower than the total cost of the package. Titles which average more than 25 full-text downloads over several years are also considered candidates for repurchase.

2) Library Funded Resources: The other portion of the serials budget is managed by individual libraries and spent on subject-specific resources. These resources are largely databases, individual journal title subscriptions and subscribed e-books. These resources are being evaluated using the following criteria:

  • Duplication of print when available online;
  • Duplication of online access through multiple sources;
  • Low demonstrated demand based on usage data;
  • Not required for discipline specific research or teaching needs;
  • Low impact journal (based on Journal Citation Reports or SCImago Journal Rank);
  • High cost per use;
  • Western researchers rarely or never publish in the journal;
  • Limited citations by Western researchers;
  • Rate of publication cost increases that far exceed the rate of inflation;
  • Problematic licensing terms (e.g. no remote access, unable to use on course management system);
  • Embargo periods in databases, i.e. a length of time during which the current content is not available;
  • Full-text access preferred to abstracting & indexing resources, as per disciplinary practices;
  • Issues with discoverability through catalogue and or discovery layer (e.g. provision of analytics, indexing in Summon, poor MARC record quality)



  1. Why can't Western Libraries subscribe to everything?
  2. What is the difference between Western Libraries acquisitions and operations budgets?
  3. Has Western Libraries budget been cut?
  4. Are we still buying books?
  5. Why are print materials necessary?
  6. How can I suggest a purchase?
  7. What are the alternate means of access for cancelled titles?
  8. How do I get an article if Western Libraries doesn’t have access?
  9. How can faculty help?
  10. How have other universities reacted to the Canadian dollar?
  11. What is Scholars Portal?
  12. What is JSTOR?
  13. Where can I report problems with journals and/or databases Western Libraries subscribes to?
  14. What are OCUL, CRKN, and other consortia?
  15. How are library subscriptions connect to what is available through Google Scholar?
  16. What is open access?
  17. What is a journal package?
  18. What is DDA?

Why can't Western Libraries subscribe to everything?

The sheer volume of scholarly work published in a single year has grown exponentially since the 1960s. Coupled with the yearly publisher increases for subscriptions, Western Libraries, like every other library in Canada, must make choices regarding what scholarly material we add to our collection. The collections librarians at Western rely on consultation with researchers and instructors as well as on their knowledge of research and teaching in their subject area to make decisions regarding the purchase or cancellation of material.  Decisions are guided by our collections policies.

While Western Libraries cannot locally own and house every possible library resource, we do make access to most scholarly materials available via inter-library loan.

The inter-library Loan(ILL) service supports the research and scholarship needs of the Western community by attempting to borrow materials not available at Western Libraries, the Affiliated University College Libraries (Brescia, Huron, King's) and St. Peter's Seminary or any of the campus resource centres. RACER is the online Interlibrary Loan system used to search for material and place requests.

What is the difference between Western Libraries acquisitions and operations budgets?

Western Libraries manages an operations budget and an acquisitions budget.  The two budgets are managed separately and what impacts one budget may not affect the other budget.  For example, the recent pressure on the acquisitions budget as a result of the unfavourable currency exchange rate is due to the large number of serial subscriptions paid in USD and did not impact the operations budget to nearly the same extent.  On the other hand, like every unit on campus the operating budget is subject to an initial budget adjustment of 3% which has never been applied to the acquisitions budget.

The Western Libraries acquisitions budget has been and continues to be well funded by the institution.  Western ranks 3rd in Ontario in overall collection expenditure and collection expenditure per student.

Has Western Libraries budget been cut?

No. While the decrease in value of the Canadian dollar and inflationary increases to publication prices have combined to create a large deficit for the Library's acquisitions budget, the institution continues to fund Western Libraries very favorably and the acquisitions budget continues to be protected. (Most recent Ontario Council of University Libraries surveys reveal that Western ranks 3rd in Ontario in overall collection expenditure and collection expenditure per student). The immediacy and significance of the serials review process are strictly a product of the instability of the Canadian dollar. For example, each cent in the drop of the value of the Canadian dollar increases the annual Canadian dollar cost of subscriptions to Western by $100,000 and the value of the dollar against US currency has dropped to 71.8 cents as of December 18, 2015 and is expected to continue dropping through 2016 with some analysts suggesting a drop to below 60 cents before the end of 2016.

Are we still buying books?

While our Demand-Driven Acquisition (DDA) program had to temporarily be paused, some libraries still have monograph funds available for acquiring new book titles in both print and e-book format.  Each library has adopted their own strategy for reducing monograph spending based on the needs for their user groups.  For example, eliminating print book purchases on approval has been a popular strategy.  Books that previously came automatically on approval are, in many cases, now queued for evaluation by the responsible collection librarian. During the last quarter of the fiscal year we anticipate that most libraries will need to stop purchasing monographs as they run out of funds.  This has already happened for three libraries and the Directors are working with the Head of Acquisitions to explore sources of funding for purchasing titles that are requested by faculty (e.g. special funds, binding funds, etc.).

Why are print materials necessary?

Decisions regarding the format of the material acquired by Western Libraries are based on what will best serve the needs of the researchers and instructors who will be using the resources.  In most cases these needs are best served with the electronic format, which allows access from anywhere at any time.  There are some cases where the print version is purchased because it has been identified as best suited to fulfilling the research need.  In general, we avoid duplication of content in multiple formats (e.g. purchase of a print and electronic version of the same book).

How can I suggest a purchase?

For a purchase suggestion please select the “Recommend a Purchase” option from the Libraries website.  You are required to login with your Western ID before completing the form.

Recommend a purchase

What are the alternate means of access for cancelled titles?

For some journal titles electronic access is available from several sources as well as in print.  For example the articles may be available direct from the publisher’s website, from a database which includes full text and in print.  With the need to reduce our acquisitions expenditures, librarians are looking for opportunities to cancel titles that are accessible from more than one source or in more than one format.  This allows us to save money while still providing access in some form.  In some cases, our access may be limited to past issues and access to the current issue is no longer available.  If you require an article from a current issue, please make a request through our interlibrary loan service.

How do I get an article if Western Libraries doesn’t have access?

If you require an article from a current issue of a journal to which we no longer have access, you can ask our interlibrary loan service to request the article from another institution.  In many cases the article is sent in electronic format and delivered directly to your desktop.  For more information about interlibrary loan and requesting articles, please see the webpage.

How can faculty help?

The best way for faculty to participate in the process is to carefully review communications sent by their subject librarian and to let their subject librarian know what library resources are most important to them. We are committed to ensuring that Western Libraries can support your research and teaching and the best way for us to do that is to work together to set priorities. We will likely be reaching out to you directly with questions about specific resources and we look forward to receiving lots of feedback from you.

How have other universities reacted to the Canadian dollar?

What is Scholars Portal?

Scholars Portal is a service of the Ontario Council of University Libraries. Founded in 2002, Scholars Portal provides a shared technology infrastructure and shared collections for all 21 university libraries in the province.  Western faculty and students have access to the books and journals which we have purchased or subscribe to.  Content in Scholars Portal for which we have not paid is not accessible to Western users.  Learn more about Scholars Portal.

What is JSTOR?

JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary sources.  JSTOR helps people discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content through a powerful research and teaching platform, and preserves this content for future generations.  Western Libraries subscribes to several (not all) collections available from JSTOR which gives Western faculty and students access to over 2300 titles.  Learn more about JSTOR.

Where can I report problems with journals and/or databases Western Libraries subscribes to?

Please report any issues with resources to library@uwo.ca.

What are OCUL, CRKN, and other consortia?

Western is a member of several library consortia, the largest of which are the Ontario Council of University Libraries (OCUL) and the Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN).  Through these partnerships with academic institutions across Ontario and Canada, we have benefitted from very favourable contracts with several publishers and this has resulted in significant savings for Western.

How are library subscriptions connected to what is available through Google Scholar?

Western Libraries’ collection is indexed by Google Scholar which means that when an article retrieved by a Google Scholar search is part of the Western Libraries collection, you will get immediate access to the full text.  This has resulted in the perception for many students that these costly resources are available free on the web.  In fact, Western Libraries pays a significant amount of money to make this content available to our students, researchers and instructors.  Google Scholar provides one of several access points to this information.

What is open access?

Open access is a new model of scholarly publishing developed to free researchers and libraries from the limitations imposed by excessive subscription price increases for peer-reviewed journals. By breaking the monopoly of publishers over the distribution of research, open access makes access to information more equitable and has the added advantage of allowing the author to retain copyright.
-- Reitz, J. M. (2014). Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science. Retrieved March 24, 2016, from https://www.lib.uwo.ca/cgi-bin/ezpauthn.cgi?url=http://www.abc-clio.com/ODLIS/odlis_o.aspx

What is a journal package?

Publishers often publish many journals, either in a specific subject area, such as the American Chemical Society (ACS) or in several subject areas, like Taylor & Francis.  Libraries can purchase subscriptions one at a time or by the package.  Just like with cable packages, once you purchase a certain number of journals from one publisher, it becomes more cost effective to purchase the full package rather than title-by-title.  As a research intensive institution, Western has a very broad scope of research programs and this necessitates a broad range of journals.  In the past Western has benefitted from purchasing journal packages.  Now we are reviewing these packages to determine if they still represent the most cost effective way to bring the resources required by our researchers and instructors into our collection.

What is DDA?

Demand Driven Access or DDA is one method that Western Libraries uses to bring material into our collection.  At Western, DDA is specific to e-books.  The DDA program allows the Libraries to load a large collection of pre-selected e-books into our catalogue for no cost.  When a book has been used two times, we are invoiced at the regular cost of the item.  Western Libraries has had some version of DDA in place since about 2007 and the program has allowed us to realize significant savings in our acquisitions budget over the years.  In past years these savings have been reinvested in library collections through purchase of specialty resources such as some of the Adam Matthews Digital collections.

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Cancelled Title Lists

Collections Policies