Breaking-up is hard to do: A unique methodology for unbundling a “Big Deal”

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Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (C-EBLIP) Fall Symposium


Academic libraries acquire access to many journal titles through “Big Deal” bundles. As serials prices continue to rise at unsustainable rates it will become increasingly necessary to consider breaking-up these packages and just subscribing to the most important titles individually. Recently, it appeared that the University Library, University of Saskatchewan would likely no longer be able to afford the American Chemical Society (ACS) bundle of 40+ titles, 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. In an effort 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 study took the novel approach of applying a citation analysis technique to usage data and survey responses. Although unconventional, this unique methodology proved useful in this situation. This presentation will describe the steps taken and discuss the benefits and challenges of this method so that librarians may consider whether this approach could be adapted to their own collections analysis needs.