Budgetary constraints at West Virginia University (WVU) in combination with the impending expiration/renewal of “big deal” contracts forced the WVU Collections Advisory Committee (CAC) to implement the unbundling of three major journal packages. Wiley was the first package unbundled in 2017, followed by Elsevier Science Direct and Springer packages in 2018-19.
The CAC determined criteria to use to consider whether or not to keep specific journal titles, including total uses, cost per use, and number of papers published and references used from each title by WVU faculty members over a 3-year period. Journals were ranked for each of these criteria, and then a rank average was obtained. Journals were then placed in a spreadsheet in rank order of rank average with a rolling sum so that a cutoff point could be determined based upon what the institution could afford. Librarians had the opportunity to “plead the case” for certain titles. WVU’s Clinical Key contract had a major impact on which journals were kept from the Science Direct package.
For Springer, we retained 79 titles and lost access to 2,143; for Wiley, we retained 113 titles and lost access to 1,275 titles, and for Science Direct, we retained 247 titles plus 294 Clinical Key titles and lost access to 196 subscribed and 1,216 Freedom Collection titles. Usage statistics for Clinical Key journals have quadrupled since the unbundling, going from an average of 505/month in 2018 to an average of 2,192/month this year. An expected increase in interlibrary loan requests for canceled journals has not materialized, making ILL costs much more cost-efficient than the former subscription costs. Librarians have received few complaints about canceled titles.
Unbundling the big deal has not been nearly as traumatic as we thought it might be.
Digital Commons Citation
Arnold, Susan J. and Mays, Traci J., "Unbundling the “Big Deal”: One Library’s Experience in Rising to the Occasion" (2019). Faculty & Staff Scholarship. 2219.