Our Collections: 2019-20 Serials Review Project

Students walking in the library

Message from Vice-Provost & Chief Librarian

I would like to take this opportunity to speak about Western Libraries’ serials review and thank you for being part of this important work. Maintaining library collections, and serials in particular, is challenging in today’s environment. The ongoing proliferation of serials content, the rising costs of serials due to inflation, as well as an unstable exchange rate, all add up to increased pressure on library budgets. Just over a year ago, the University of California shocked many when they took the unprecedented step of cancelling their journal package with a major publisher, Elsevier. Where serials are concerned, we are living in uncertain, tumultuous times.

Even in the best of times, regular reviews of serial subscriptions and content are important, and a necessary part of responsible stewardship of collections. To mitigate our rising costs for serials, we must reduce our serial subscription expenditures by $270,000 this year. Keeping budgets in check will allow us to allocate sufficient funds to other areas of the collection, for example monographs, databases, and streaming video services.

To undertake this review requires a lot of dedicated work by librarians. The Collections and Content Strategies team reviews journal costs, article usage, alternative access, and input from faculty, all of which takes time to collect and analyse. Phase one of this work focuses on identifying and cancelling journal content which is duplicated. Phase two will look at examining infrequently used subscriptions.

As we undertake this work, and as we continue with our next phase, I invite each of you to be a part of this process. Your feedback matters. Please submit your comments, questions or concerns, at any time, to myself or the Collections and Content Strategies team. Working with you is the best way we can build robust library collections that align strongly with Western’s teaching and research needs.

— Catherine Steeves, Vice-Provost and Chief Librarian
Catherine Steeves' Signature