Libraries plan for journal cuts

During the past three years, WSU Libraries has canceled 1,300 journal subscriptions due to inflating costs and a tight budget. This spring, the WSU Libraries is asking for faculty assistance in determining which journals should be canceled next.

The deadline for deciding the final cancellation list for 2007 is Sept. 1, 2006. Previously, the libraries made cuts during the summer, a time when many faculty are not on campus to voice their opinions on the subject.

“The renewal cycle doesn’t mesh well with the academic calendar,” said Lynn Chmelir, assistant director for Collections and Technical Services. Although the libraries have always sought faculty input about cancellations, this year they are moving the process to earlier in the year so decisions can be made before faculty leave for the summer.

Faculty members can provide input by contacting their departments’ subject specialist librarians, who listen to department faculty and report back to the libraries’ collection development department. To determine your department’s subject specialist librarian, go to the collections website: www.wsulibs.wsu.edu/general/subjspe3.htm.

Factors determining which journals are canceled include impact factor, total journal cost and cost per use, Chmelir said.

“It ends up being very subjective,” she said, which is why it is important to have faculty feedback.

Library personnel will not know the final 2007 budget until the Sept. 1, 2006, cancellation deadline creeps closer; however, they hope to compile a “worst-case scenario list” arranged in priority order before most faculty leave in May, Chmelir said. If the journal budget for 2007 is more generous than anticipated, libraries will refrain from canceling some of the higher priority titles on the list.

Despite dealing with tricky numbers, complex processes and an abundance of deadlines, libraries employees have developed an effective journal cancellation system.

“It’s a sad commentary, but we’re getting good at it,” Chmelir said.

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