Collections Cost Reduction

Like other academic libraries across Canada, the University Library is facing significant currency exchange and inflationary pressures on its collections budget.

Like other academic libraries across Canada, the University Library is facing significant currency exchange and inflationary pressures on its collections budget. Spending must be reduced in order to achieve a balanced budget. In order to do this, not all subscriptions can be renewed and not all requests can be met.

The University Library has developed a collection of excellent resources to support teaching, learning, and research at the University of Saskatchewan and has done so in a cost effective and fiscally responsible manner. We benefit from an annual increase provided by the University to the collections budget. We also participate in a number of consortial licensing arrangements that provide significant savings; we use a wholesaler that results in discounts on our book purchases; and we have reduced format duplication (print and electronic) to save on subscription costs.

Despite these actions, the library now faces significant financial challenges. For many years increases to the costs of scholarly publications have been well beyond the cost of inflation. Journal prices increase on average 6-8% per year; academic book prices increase on average 4% per year; and this year research database prices are expected to increase by 3-5%.This has now been compounded by the decline in the value of the Canadian dollar.

Most of the materials the library acquires are invoiced or originate in US dollars. When the Canadian dollar was strong, our cost saving strategies and annual budgetary increase allowed us to maintain a balanced budget. But the decline in the value of the Canadian dollar against the US dollar in the past two years has had a significant impact. For 2015/16 we budgeted for an exchange rate of $0.83 and the US/CDN exchange rate is now $0.75. Projections from the large banks indicate that the dollar will remain below $0.80 for the foreseeable future.

We are now forecasting that this loss of purchasing power combined with anticipated price increases will result in a 14% increase in the cost to retain the same resources that we subscribed to last year.

Our objective is to protect the maximum possible number of the high quality resources required to meet teaching, learning, and research commitments. However, in order to balance the budget:

  • We will not be able to renew every subscription or fulfil every request for new material
  • We are reviewing the collection in order to identify candidates for cancellation on an ongoing basis.
  • We have made a few immediate decisions to reduce spending this fiscal year
  • We have placed a temporary hold on new electronic resources purchases (e.g. journals and databases)

We are using a set of principles to guide us in reviewing the collection: 

  • Maintain core strategic resources for teaching, learning, and research, to minimize the impact of cancellations to the greatest extent possible
  • Reduce duplication of content among resources
  • Maintain an appropriate balance among disciplines
  • Maintain access to owned content for which we have perpetual access
  • Focus reductions on electronic resources with ongoing subscription costs (e.g. journals and databases)

Thank you for your understanding over the coming months as we review the collection in order to balance the budget. We will continue to communicate with the campus community on this issue.

Charlene Sorensen
Interim Associate Dean
University Library

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