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The Library's Cancellation Process: How Decisions Were Made

The Library spends approximately 96% of its M&O (maintenance and operations) budget on its collection of journals, databases, and books. In order to absorb a 15% budget reduction for FY2012, the Library had to cancel a large number of journals and databases and reduce expenditures for books and ebooks. (The personnel budget was also reduced by 15%, resulting in the loss of 6 staff and 3 vacant positions.) The 2012 cancellation process had to balance a significant number of issues in a very limited timeframe. Our primary goal was to maintain equitable campus support for current and future clinical, educational, and research needs. Other essential considerations included limitations and complexities of existing bundled package agreements, varying subscription renewal deadlines, and inflation projections. All issues were considered against the broader context of the Library's funding outlook for both FY2012 and FY2013.

The planning process for library reductions began in Spring 2011. Keeping the projected FY2012 deficit in mind, we reviewed and prioritized all subscription-based journals, databases, and books for possible cancellation. Each resource was considered carefully, using a variety of factors and metrics:

  • Alternative, lower cost options (e.g., content duplicated elsewhere with embargoes, alternative delivery platforms, reduced seats)
  • Amount of use
  • Annual Cost of the subscription or package and annual price increases
  • Campus needs and priorities
  • Cost per use based on past usage
  • Overall collection balance
  • Renewal cycle deadlines
  • Resource quality measurements (e.g., Impact Factor, indexing sources, primary or secondary source data)
  • Terms of existing consortial and/or license agreements

I shared the broad outline for potential cancellations with the Library's Faculty Advisory Committee in May 2011 and the Provost in July 2011. Library staff subsequently gathered additional information from vendors and purchasing partner groups throughout the summer to determine if any license restrictions or other contractual terms would negatively affect or prevent planned decisions. The campus News Bureau distributed the Library's cancellation list in September 2011, and the Library added a link to the same information from its web site (utsouthwestern.edu/library/about/resourceInfo.cfm). At that time, I requested campus feedback and justification to sustain support for any high priority resources. Several titles have been reinstated based on that feedback and justification.

At the request of the Library's Faculty Advisory Committee, I am sharing some documents that illustrate our decision-making process. These are one-time snapshots of working documents and include pricing information that should not be shared outside the UT Southwestern campus. The documents are: (only accessible on-campus or via VPN)

In summary, the cancellation process was complex and challenging. A dedicated team of Library staff had to make many difficult decisions within a short time span, using a judicious and equitable process that we felt served the best interests of the entire campus.

At this time, the Library's budget for FY2013 will remain at FY2012 levels. Predicted price increases of 7-10% for 2013 will result in another round of cancellations, which we have begun to prioritize. We continue to monitor requests for new titles or journal subscription reinstatements, which we will consider as the Library's budget situation allows. We welcome feedback and will work diligently to contain costs without sacrificing a quality collection that best serves the campus' clinical, educational, and research missions.

Laurie L. Thompson, MLS, AHIP
Assistant Vice President for Library Services