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Collections Review 2020-2022

Donut chart showing the Libraries budget. 44% of the Libraries budget is spent on Collections. 13% of the total budget is spent on Big Deals subscriptions each year.

  • University Libraries is committed to our mission to collect, manage, disseminate, and preserve information to support the curriculum and fuel the intellectual life of the university. 
  • COVID-19 accelerated the library’s already eroding buying power in the traditional scholarly communications environment. Subscription costs have been unsustainable for many years, taking a larger percentage of the acquisitions budget to maintain a more homogenized, less inclusive, and less responsive collection as a result. The library essentially pays more for less coverage each year.
  • We are investigating ways to reduce our subscription spending. These adjustments will help us sustainably continue to provide materials to our community in years to come.
  • GVSU is not alone. Libraries all over the world are making difficult decisions about their collections. Large systems like the University of California and the State University of New York have cancelled large subscriptions to redirect their collections spending.
  • You can drive change in the landscape of scholarly publishing by supporting Open Access publishing and Open Educational Resources.

What’s Happening

University Libraries is developing a new collections strategy in response to increasingly inflated journal and database subscription fees as well as forecasted university-wide funding adjustments. 

GVSU is not alone in this situation. In the traditional publishing system, authors submit their work to journals for review; if it is accepted, the journal publishes the work at minimal—or no—cost to the author. Rarely are authors and editors compensated for this work. However, access to those same journals is then sold for thousands of dollars to institutions like GVSU. Content providers exploit the labor of researchers to cash in on systems of access and prestige, selling subscriptions to highly-regarded journals at prices that outpace inflation on any other consumer good, without regard for the impact paywalls have on the academic community.

The Numbers

This graph demonstrates the standard inflation for journal subscriptions over the past five years. This trend is similar across all subscribed resources; on average, these contracts carry an inflation rate of 5%.  

This inflationary trend affects 90% of library resources, which are subscription based.  With a flat library collections base budget for several years, the inflationary increases have led to higher expenditures for the library to provide the same level of coverage. In past years, we have been able to offset this increase by using other areas of the budget. In light of the growing size of the deficit, and the campus budget cuts, this is no longer a sustainable approach.

Bar chart showing EBSCO annual price increases from 2014-2018.

Beyond Grand Valley

Other institutions are grappling with these same issues, and many have already canceled large subscriptions, including the University of California, University of North Carolina, and State University of New York systems. The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) is an advocacy organization tracking dozens of similar Big Deal cancellations as other universities disinvest from deals that no longer serve them.

What We're Doing

In the face of these budget pressures, our mission remains unchanged: to collect, manage, disseminate, and preserve information to support the university curriculum and fuel the intellectual life of the university.  We connect scholars and learners to resources.

Guided by Grand Valley’s values, we are seeking ways to fulfill this mission sustainably, so that we can be good stewards of our resources for many years to come.

How we're making these decisions

While dealing with the reality of budget reductions, we ask how our decisions will ultimately benefit students. In this effort, we seek to:

  • Support the curricular goals of the university
  • Allocate funds strategically to support one-time purchases and ongoing subscriptions
  • Remain flexible to support new programs of study
  • Seek input from the GVSU community to minimize any adverse impacts

Our goals

We approach significant changes to the collection with the same principles which inform the library’s mission and values. Ideally, our resources will be more: 

  • Sustainable: we champion the success of every student through investigating, promoting, and publishing in open and alternative models of scholarly communications. We promote the dissemination and impact of GVSU scholarship through our open access fund, ScholarWorks repository, and Open Educational Resources. We recognize sustainability comes from open scholarship as well as infrastructure.
  • Responsive: we analyze thousands of data points to understand the evolving interests, priorities, and stories of our patrons. We develop the library’s collection through both automated processes and the wisdom of human interventions. We select resources and develop services to challenge the current uncertainty focusing on flexible, accessible, and inclusive resources.
  • Collective: we use the library’s extensive staff and faculty expertise to connect the GVSU community with more resources than it would be possible to obtain through traditional acquisitions methods and limited budgets. We leverage our local, regional, and national networks as active collaborators in student learning, teaching, and research. We recognize the future is shared.   

What You Can Do

Open Access

Open Access refers to:

  • scholarly work - articles, books, research data, multimedia, etc.
  • which is freely available online
  • which often has few or no restrictions on reuse

By removing financial and legal barriers, Open Access enables teachers, scholars, and learners to find academic information and to use that information to make new discoveries, create new works, and advance human knowledge.

The concepts of Open Educational Resources, Open Data, Open Source Software, and Open Research Practices share this core idea that Open means "free to use + permission to modify, share, or reuse," and allows more people to benefit from more information than ever before.

You can learn more about University Libraries’ commitment to Open Access on the GVSU Libraries Scholarly Communication page.  This includes information about the Open Access Publishing Support Fund, Open Access Week, Open Access Journal Quality Indications, and ScholarWorks, GVSU’s open access repository for sharing the scholarly and educational work of faculty, staff, and students.

How to access things we don’t have anymore

University Libraries wants you to have what you need. If we don’t have it, we’ll do our best to find it or connect you with alternatives.

In many cases, it will still be possible to access past volumes and issues of an electronic journal we previously subscribed to through post-cancelation access rights. These depend on several factors, including licensing negotiations between the library and content provider. Converting textbooks from print to online has mixed results, depending on the publisher.

The vast majority of canceled titles will be available through Document Delivery. This service is free to the GVSU community and in most cases, delivers a copy of your request to your email within a few days.

Physical materials may also be available through Document Delivery and MeLCat, which allow us to share resources with our community partners. You can contact your liaison librarian for help finding or accessing resources. 

Contact us

We want to hear from you if you have questions or concerns.  You can email our Collections and Digital Scholarship team at libcoll@gvsu.edu. You can email Cara Cadena, Head of Collections and Digital Scholarship, at cadenac@gvsu.edu 

You can also contact your liaison librarian with questions about the Collections Review: