VCU Libraries invites feedback on proposed journal and database cancellations

August 31, 2020
A laptop surronded by crumpled post-it notes and a cup of coffee displays the VCU Libraries page about the first round of Journal Cancellations.

To manage anticipated budget cuts, VCU Libraries is planning to cancel subscriptions to some journals and databases effective January 2021. At this stage in the process of selecting titles to retire, the collections department asks for feedback from the VCU academic community.  

These cuts to the collection budget are due to the economic effects of COVID-19. Uncertainty about enrollment and government funding has required universitywide budget reductions. For fiscal year 2021 (academic year 2020-21), VCU Libraries sustained a 4.6 percent budget cut that will be managed through reductions in operations, personnel and the collection. The libraries also did not receive unavoidable cost increase funds this year, which helped maintain the library collection amidst soaring scholarly publication costs in past years. 

VCU Libraries must reduce collection expenditures by $500,000 in FY 2021 and $500,000 in FY 2022. Most of these reductions will be realized by eliminating a number of journal and database subscriptions. “We will make every effort to retain highly used titles and those that exhibit a high value through a low cost-per-use article download,” said Karen Cary, who heads the Collections Analysis and Investment Department.

The journal and database cancellations will go into effect Jan. 1, 2021 for most titles. 

"Our goal is to find alternative means of access to content so that faculty and students will continue to be able to get the resources they need for research, clinical care and teaching," Cary said.

The initial list of proposed cancellations for FY 2021 will be posted on the libraries website Aug. 31-Sept. 18. Most of these titles are published by Taylor & Francis, with five from the University of Chicago Press. All of the titles have a cost-per-use above $50. 

A comment form will be available for faculty, graduate students, undergraduates, and others to provide feedback on each title. The list of proposed titles for cancellation adds up to about $300,000 in savings. Taylor & Francis titles are expensive, individually subscribed and do not require unbundling a journal package, so they are a logical first choice for cancellation.


The final list of cancellations for FY 2021 will be announced in November. Additional journal subscriptions and databases will be proposed for cancellation for fiscal year 2022. 

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