Impact of a weak Canadian dollar on Western Libraries' acquisitions budget

Published on September 29, 2015

Written by:  Harriet Rykse

Western Libraries’ has developed a strong collection to enhance teaching, learning and research on campus that serves its academic community well. We have managed and developed our digital and print collections responsibly through thoughtful and responsive purchasing and the adoption of cost effective ways of collecting material, such as the ‘Demand Driven Purchase’ model for e-books and negotiated consortial licensing to reduce subscription costs. We have also benefited from annual increases to the acquisitions budget.

Unfortunately, the drastic decline in the value of the Canadian dollar, along with an ongoing increase in the costs of scholarly publications (exceeding inflation), has significantly impacted the purchasing power of the Western Libraries acquisitions budget, leaving us in the difficult position of a forecasted deficit. It is important to note that a high percentage of purchases are made in non-Canadian currency and that journal subscriptions require licences with ongoing or multi-year acquisitions budget commitments.

As it stands, 84 per cent of our acquisitions budget is spent on resources invoiced in U.S. dollars and 77 per cent of our budget is committed to ongoing journal renewals. This means that a mere one-cent drop in the value of the Canadian dollar results in a $100,000 or more drop in our collections purchasing power. With the value of the dollar currently hovering around 75 cents on the U.S. dollar, and projected to fall even lower before the end of the year, Western Libraries must immediately take steps to mitigate the impact on our acquisitions budget in order to stay within fiscal means while still meeting the needs of the Western academic community.

Western Libraries is reviewing the options available to manage the acquisitions budget in this environment of significantly reduced purchasing power, both for the remaining months of this fiscal year and also longer term options for the 2016/17 fiscal year.  Western Libraries recognizes that our faculty and students value and require access to quality collections and we will work to implement options with minimal impact.  The need for mitigating actions in this fiscal year will require Western Libraries to make some immediate decisions which will affect both book purchasing and a limited number of journal renewals.  We have also put a hold on all new journal purchases.  It is our intent to consult with the Western community as we make plans for bringing our collections purchases into line with our reduced purchasing power for the 2016/17 fiscal year.  This consultation will begin later in the fall term and continue through the winter term.

Western Libraries collections are held in high esteem by the community, as demonstrated every year in the various scorecards and assessments that take place.  As we move through this process, librarians will work to minimize, as far as possible, the impact reduced purchasing and cancellations will have on the research and teaching at Western.

If you have questions please contact Catherine Steeves, Vice-Provost and Chief Librarian, Harriet Rykse, Acting Assistant University Librarian (Information Resources and Access) or contact us.