Frequently Asked Questions for the Collections Review


What is the timeline for the serials cancellation project?

Because serials are ordered and paid for several months before the beginning of the subscription year, the Collections Review needs to take place during the spring and early summer months. The cancellations requests for the 2014/2015 subscription year need to be made with the serial vendors by summer 2014.

  • October 2013: University Library Committee Meeting
  • November 2013: Departmental Library Representatives Meeting
  • February 24, 2014: Distribution of proposed journal cancellation list for review and ranking
  • March 21, 2014: Deadline for feedback to the Libraries on the serials review list
  • April 15, 2014: Distribution of cancellation list of journals and databases for follow-up review
  • May 7, 2014: Deadline for comments on cancellation list
  • May 12-16, 2014: Final list of journal and database cancellations posted
  • July-August, 2014: Initiate journals and databases cancellation process

What is the dollar amount of this budget reduction?

The NCSU Libraries has estimated that it will need to reduce the collections budget in 2014-2015 by up to $750,000. Projected budget reductions from the university, combined with expected inflation for journals and databases of $550,000 (at a 7% annual inflation rate), necessitate preparations for steep reductions to the collection.

How are titles being selected for cancellation?

Because this collections review is a comprehensive evaluation of all subscription-based costs, it is important to assess all print and online serials titles to which the NCSU Libraries currently subscribes. The evaluation of serials involves a combination of quantitative, qualitative and cost measures. All cancellation decisions are being made in consultation with faculty, staff, and students. To this end, the lists of serials titles proposed for cancellation include data for evaluation such as publishers, costs, journal impact factors, frequency of publications and citations to the serials by NCSU researchers, subjects, and usage data of the online versions (article downloads) from 2011-2013.

Why are some open access journals on the list of proposed journal cancellations for review?

In cases where a journal is available as open access, feedback is requested specifically for our paid subscriptions of these journals (which could be for print, print+online, or online only formats). If we were to cancel the paid subscriptions, we would rely on the open access versions of these journals and include them in our catalog and content discovery tools.  However, when considering whether or not to wholly rely on the open access version of a journal, it is important to take into account the sustainability plan of the open access journal, any embargo periods of open access journals ("delayed open access"), as well as the extent to which the journal makes its content open access (e.g., "hybrid open access" or "partial open access").

Why is the Libraries focusing on cancelling serials?

The NCSU Libraries spends approximately 75% of collections funds on serials. Serials costs have been increasing between 7-12% per year. In comparison, book costs have been increasing at approximately 3-5% per year. To prevent serials from consuming the entire collections budget, we must look at cutting back on some of the serials we purchase.

Will the Libraries’ also spend less on books?

Yes. The Libraries will be reviewing all areas of collecting to absorb this budget reduction.

Can the Libraries save money if it purchases only online journals?

It depends. The subscription model differs from publisher to publisher. With some publishers, online access comes "free" with a print subscription. In some instances, the publisher requires that the Libraries subscribe to both the print and electronic versions of a title at a combined cost when the electronic version is not available as a separate subscription. Other publishers provide a small savings of usually 5-10% for online-only access. It should be remembered that the savings by moving to online-only subscriptions and cancelling the print counterpart can only be realized once. While switching to online-only subscriptions eliminates some costs of processing print materials (e.g., receipt and processing, shelving, binding, circulation, stacks maintenance), new costs are created (licensing, cross-resource linking, maintaining and troubleshooting access issues). In making the decision to subscribe to online-only resources, the Libraries will evaluate whether there is a reliable archiving model such as LOCKSS and/or Portico in place for a title before cancelling the print format. If you feel that it is critical to maintain a print subscription for a particular title, please contact us.

What are the guiding principles for this collection budget reduction?

While we identify ways to reduce the collections budget, we will seek to:

  • Develop and sustain access to research materials with available funding to support research, teaching and extension
  • Maintain an appropriate balance among disciplines and user groups
  • Remain flexible enough to respond to new research areas and purchase new resources
  • Support a reasonable balance between monographs and serial commitments
  • Use gift funds strategically to purchase important resources when the opportunity arises
  • Collaborate with the NCSU community to make the best decisions for our campus

Can I donate a personal journal copy to the Libraries?

We very much appreciate the offer, but in most cases, publishers have different pricing structures for individuals and institutions and the cost to individuals is typically much less. Publishers do not expect the personal copy to be used in a library, and doing so may violate a subscription agreement. In addition, arrangements for using personal copies may result in significant delays, gaps in coverage, and other problems for library patrons.

What can a faculty member do to help?

The most immediate action a faculty member can take is to participate actively in the review by giving the Libraries your feedback. Talk with your departmental library representative about the review process. Review and rank the proposed list of cancellations and provide feedback to either your departmental library representative or to the Libraries directly, through the NCSU Libraries' Collection Management (now Collections & Research Strategy) contacts. Make sure you submit your feedback by the date listed in the review timeline. Faculty can also engage in activities that have an enormous impact on scholarly communication issues. The Libraries encourages you to:

  • Learn more about journal pricing and inflation
  • Stay aware of publisher policies regarding authors' retention of copyright
  • Examine the scholarly journals in which you publish as well as your service on editorial boards
  • Support the efforts by professional associations, societies, and other organizations to develop alternative, less costly means of distributing scholarly information
  • Learn more about these scholarly communication issues by visiting the Copyright and Digital Scholarship Center website

When will the cancellations go into effect?

Most of the cancellations will take effect in FY 2014 – 2015. This means that Libraries’ subscriptions and standing orders for titles slated for cancellation will end with the 2014 volume in most instances.

When the electronic version of a journal is cancelled, do we still retain electronic access to the years/volumes that we subscribed to before the cancellation?

Yes and no. Typically, after cancelling a subscribed title the Libraries will maintain electronic access to the subscribed years/volumes stored on the publishers' servers. This is made possible by way of the rights secured in the negotiated licence.

Are there any journals not on the proposed cancellation list that may be cancelled as part of this review?

Yes and no. The list of proposed cancellations includes only our individual and direct subscriptions. Through consortial partners such as TRLN, the Libraries has license agreements with several publishers that allow us access to a broader selection of titles to which we do not formally subscribe (a.k.a. non-subscribed titles). For those non-subscribed titles, if we cancel or decide to not renew a license/title with a publisher, we may lose all access to the additional non-subscribed titles.

How does this review relate to previous serial cancellation projects?

The Libraries last conducted a comprehensive serials review project in Spring 2009. The 2009 review targeted subscriptions to periodicals, newspapers, and indexes/abstracts, with the aim to reduce subscriptions expenditures by $1,500,000. After receiving funding from campus for enrollment and inflationary increases, the Libraries cancelled 499 serials titles.

How can I get access to titles once they have been cancelled?

The Libraries’ Tripsaver service can be used to request articles, books or other documents that the Libraries does not own or offer access to. In most cases, journal articles will be delivered directly to your desktop at no charge to you.

Are there alternatives for access to cancelled journals, other than interlibrary loan?

The NCSU Libraries provides access to several full-text databases such as Academic Search Complete and Business Source Complete (EBSCO). These databases offer access to the full-text of many diverse journals, magazines and newspapers.

It should be noted that, in some cases, these full-text databases are not an exact substitute for a full subscription to a journal. In some instances the coverage may not include every article, letters to the editor, or book reviews and it may not include graphics (illustrations, charts, or maps). Additionally, many of the journals included in these types of databases have "embargo periods." This means that the publisher of an embargoed title does not allow the database to release the full-text content for a predetermined length of time (typically 6 or 12 months). After the embargo period is over, the full-text will become available as it does for earlier issues of a journal.

What will happen to the online backfiles or archives of a journal if the current subscription is cancelled?

Typically, after cancelling a current journal subscription the Libraries will maintain electronic access to the subscribed years and, in many cases, the previously paid backfiles of a journal.

Will other parts of the Libraries' budget be cut?

The Libraries is comprehensively reviewing its budget, making strategic, programmatic reductions, eliminating 13 filled positions and 14 vacant positions, reducing equipment expenditures, and extending existing collaboration with its Triangle partners. We understand how central the collection is to research and teaching and are doing everything we can to limit the impact of these reductions. However, because the collections budget is a large part of the Libraries’ overall budget, we cannot avoid collections reductions in the face projected budget reductions from the university, combined with expected inflation for journals and databases of $550,000 (at a 7% annual inflation rate). Funds for capital projects, such as the James B. Hunt Jr. Library, come from separate budget lines that cannot be used for library collections and services.

Whom should I contact at the Libraries for more information?

For more information or any questions please contact:

Hilary Davis
Head, Collection Management (now Collections & Research Strategy)

Greg Raschke
Associate Director for Collections and Scholarly Communication

Or the Collection Manager/Branch Director for your subject area.