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Library Budget Constraints


In FY 2017, 99.5% of Central University Libraries’ (CUL) budget allocation was spent on journals and databases (“continuatio‚Äčns"). 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. 

What this means for your journal access

There are two categories of journals in a typical “big deal:” subscribed and unsubscribed. Subscribed titles are those for which the library pays individually (typically the ones the library had subscriptions to before the Big Deal started). Unsubscribed titles are the other titles provided for the flat fee.
We retain access to subscribed titles for the years we paid for a subscription.  For most Elsevier titles, access will be 1997-present, if we continue to subscribe.  For anything that was previously subscribed that we choose to cancel, access will be 1997-2018. We do not retain access to unsubscribed titles. Interlibrary Loan will continue to be available for any materials needed for research but not available through SMU Libraries.  

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Budget spending

historical budget spendingThese 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.

What the library is currently doing

We are currently gathering data about: which publications are used most at SMU (from vendors), which publications SMU researchers cite most frequently (from Web of Science), and which publications SMU faculty consider essential to their teaching and research. All of this information will be compiled, and journals in the sciences and engineering, arts and humanities, and behavioral and social sciences will be evaluated separately.  This will account for differing citation patterns across disciplines.  
Our plan is to target the most-used, most-valued content to retain. Should funding from SMU make it unnecessary to reduce content access, we will focus on structuring the renewal so it is more cost-effective.