In FY 2017, 99.5% of Central University Libraries’ (CUL) budget allocation was spent on journals and databases (“continuations"). Annual increases to CUL budget are typically in the 3-4 percent range though annual serials inflation is typically 5-6 percent. (Source: EBSCO Serials Price Projections reports) Continuations expenditures have now consumed the entire allocated budget (books and other materials are purchased primarily from endowments). We may need to cut continuations expenditures if no other sources of funding are available to cover them.
What is the "Big Deal"?
Vendors offer libraries “big deals,” in which the vendor takes the library’s previous expenditures on its journals, and throws in all the rest of the titles it publishes for a flat (usually low) fee. Big Deals are typically multi-year contracts, with capped price increases per year (normally 4-5%). While the contracts keep the annual price increases predictable, being in these contracts ties up the majority of our annual budgets. Big Deal contracts are also restrictive in that we cannot reduce the number of titles in our packages to spend less.
In terms of cost per use, they are good deals. However, without greater increases to the library's acquisitions budget, we will likely be unable to renew Big Deal contracts. When exiting a Big Deal, libraries should be prepared to lose access to some content.
These charts include spending from both budgeted and endowed funds. As you can see, continuations are increasingly consuming the annual budget. The amount of spending consumed by the Elsevier Big Deal invoice has risen from 16% in 2011 to 24% in 2017. In order to afford the resources necessary to the university, we may need to make cancelations and leave Big Deal contracts.