Collections Management Strategies

Western Libraries strongly supports the principle and movement of open access, and encourages Western's faculty to further the democratization of knowledge by depositing copies of their research into our institutional repository, Scholarship@Western. We also recognize that the vast majority of scholarly resources still require funding from our acquisitions budget.

Western Libraries continuously reviews all the resources we acquire to ensure they are of ongoing benefit to research, teaching and learning at Western. A team of collections librarians maintains subject-specific collections, and utilizes a committee structure to ensure comprehensive and interdisciplinary resources are responsibly acquired and reviewed. This approach includes review of large journal packages to determine if Western Libraries will attain better value by "unbundling" the package (i.e by cancelling the full package and acquiring only a select number of journals).

Generally speaking, resources are deselected when they meet one or more of 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

As the cost of serials continues to spiral at unsustainable rates and publishers consolidate more content into package deals, libraries are increasingly being forced to make extremely difficult acquisitions decisions. The falling value of the Canadian dollar during the 2015/16 fiscal year prompted Western Libraries to make many such difficult decisions, which have been documented in the following webpage:

In their current constructions, neither unbundling or open access likely provide ideal, comprehensive solutions. Western Libraries will continue to rely on the expertise of our librarians to guide us through these difficult times, and will consult with faculty to ensure our methods are in alignment with the needs of our communities.