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K-State Today

March 21, 2019

K-State Libraries request feedback on titles under consideration for cancellation

Submitted by Sarah McGreer Hoyt

As announced earlier this semester, K-State Libraries must undertake our most significant round of subscription cancellations to date.

This action is largely the result of an international crisis in academic publishing and the skyrocketing costs of subscription materials. As Dean Lori Goetsch noted previously, we are not alone in this experience: "The serials crisis places academic libraries all over the world in an untenable position: They will be forced to enact cuts as long as publishers continue to raise their rates by six percent — and even more — on an annual basis."

After an extensive review, we have identified the latest list of titles under consideration for cancellation or reduced access. The full list is available online.

The list was compiled based on usage and cost data, but we need to factor in qualitative information before we make our final decisions. That's why feedback from faculty and researchers is critical. Please provide your comments via the survey linked from the potential cancellations webpage by Wednesday, April 11. As with past rounds of cuts, the responses will be reviewed carefully, and they are weighed in the final decisions.

"We're moving forward with this dramatic action in order to balance next year's budget," said Joelle Pitts, head of content development. "It's the only way we have currently available to mitigate the effects of several publishers' exorbitant subscription increases. Then we will be able to shift our focus to getting researchers the materials they need through alternate, more affordable means, and to strengthening K-State's engagement with open access initiatives."

The list affects multiple disciplines, so we hope a broad segment of the K-State community will provide feedback. We want to know who uses a specific journal or database and for what purpose. For example, is a title needed for accreditation, to support the curriculum, for research purposes or for other essential needs like course reserves?

The following criteria are used to determine the final list of subscription cancellations:

  • Low usage in the last year, or a downward trend over the last few years.
  • High cost per online viewing or downloading of a journal article. In some cases, we pay hundreds of dollars per use.
  • Unreasonable price increases on the part of the publisher; for instance, some journal subscription costs will increase by more than 20 percent in the next year.
  • Whether the journal is open access except for the most recent 12-24 months.
  • Whether the journal is available simultaneously from one or several content providers.

Other ways users can help us manage our scarce collection dollars include:

When the K-State community uses permalinks and interlibrary loan, the Libraries have comprehensive statistics of the actual demand for specific materials. That allows us to make collection adjustments over time and build arguments for future allocation increases.

If you have questions or comments, we strongly encourage researchers to contact their librarian or invite them to a department meeting. This is an important moment for the entire K-State research community to engage in an ongoing conversation about cancellations, access and the serials crisis. 

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