Full article: The Buyback Dilemma: How We Developed a Principle-Based, Data-Driven Approach to Unbundling Big Deals

Abstract:  [University of Saskatchewan] is a publicly funded, medium-sized research intensive medical doctoral university in Canada. Like other academic libraries, we have been coping with the rising costs of Big Deal journal packages in the context of shrinking budgets and variable currency fluctuation between the Canadian and American Dollar. When faced with a need to cancel two Big Deal packages in order to balance our budget, we undertook a data-driven, principles-based approach. We discuss the context at [University of Saskatchewan], and the principles and steps we used to successfully determine which packages to cancel, and how to determine titles for re-subscription within a limited budget. We discuss how we compiled and used data that addresses scholarly (citation), pedagogical (downloads), and reputational (survey responses) concerns, and share the formula we developed. We also share some lessons learned and recommendations and ideas for future Big Deal assessment.


When to Hold Them, When to Fold Them: Reassessing “Big Deals” in 2020: The Serials Librarian: Vol 0, No 0

Abstract:  While cancellations of “Big Deals” at research institutions are making the headlines, small- and medium-sized schools are also addressing the issue of managing their journal packages by cancelling or unbundling major publishers’ journal packages. Although “Big Deals” were advantageous when first acquired, as the years passed, large publishers absorbed more publications annually, which brought higher costs and titles of lower relevance to the library. Each year librarians at Pepperdine University have analyzed cost per use, and each year the cost per use increased on many packages until these increases became unsustainable. Coinciding with this tipping point, alternatives to licensing entire packages emerged or became more viable. Libraries across the country realize that they no longer need to own everything. The authors go into details for each of the publishers’ “Big Deals,” present reasons why they were cancelled or restructured, the alternative solutions implemented, and what the reaction has been.