Unbundling a Big Deal: Comparing Three Data Sources to Come to Decisions

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American Library Association Annual Conference


Academic libraries in Canada acquire many “big deal” journal packages through a national consortium, the Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN). Recently, negotiations with the American Chemical Society (ACS) broke down and it appeared that member libraries would need to negotiate with ACS individually for the Web Editions bundle of 40+ titles. It soon became clear that the University Library, University of Saskatchewan would likely no longer be able to afford the entire package, and tough decisions would need to be made. Usage data on each title were readily available – but is that enough evidence? Working under the common assumption that the primary users of this package are the Chemistry Department researchers, a citation analysis was conducted on what ACS journals these users recently published in and cited in their articles. The Chemistry Department was kept informed of developments in the ACS/CRKN situation, and expressed interest and concern in the outcome. In an effort to continue to engage chemistry researchers and offer them a voice in the process, a survey of their opinions on each ACS title was also conducted. It was hoped that combining data from these three discrete sources: usage statistics, citation analyses, and user feedback, would enable us to arrive at the most conscientious, evidence-based decisions possible. This presentation will discuss the outcome of this thorough analysis and consider the benefits and challenges of this comprehensive methodology and whether it is practical in every situation.