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Sustaining our journal collections

VCU Libraries is committed to providing access to materials critical for research and teaching. We want to ensure that our spending commitments align with community needs, that we are responsible stewards of our budget in a rapidly evolving information landscape, and that we contain and control costs wherever possible. In order to do this, we are assembling, evaluating, and sharing some important information about cost, usage, and growth trends. This will help us assess whether large journal packages, often called Big Deals, provide good value and represent a sustainable part of our overall investment in information on behalf of the University.

Further Reading on Sustainable Journal Collections »

By the numbers

$3.9 million
(current VCU journal Big Deal subscriptions from 4 publishers)
$1.4 million
(estimated VCU Big Deal cumulative price increase 2016-2025)
23-37% profit
(Big Deal publishers)

VCU is not alone. Universities and colleges across the world are facing the pressures of runaway costs and lack of flexibility in sustaining their research library collections. SPARC has been tracking negotiations and cancellations of large journal packages (“Big Deals”) for more than 15 years. Recently a number of research universities have cancelled or transformed their big deals including MIT, Temple University, University of North Carolina, University of California System, Florida State University, and others. Due to budget issues across Virginia academic libraries, VIVA, the statewide library consortium, has suspended the Wiley journals Big Deal open access publishing program. The Virginia Research Libraries (including VCU Libraries) will soon be negotiating the Elsevier Big Deal which includes access to more than 3,000 journal titles. VCU Libraries will be canceling some journals and databases this year in order to meet a $500,000 deficit and anticipates a similar reduction in 2021-22. As we evaluate and make decisions about our spending commitments, VCU Libraries will continue to seek feedback and communicate with the university community.

If you have further questions or need more information, please contact Karen Cary, Head of Collections Analysis and Investment, at