In the fall semester, Dean Langley and I convened a committee to assess the future of journal subscriptions at UConn. As journal costs continue to rise, library budgets at institutions of higher education often remain flat or shrink. This has put pressure on libraries to make increasingly difficult choices to limit and /or eliminate staffing, programming, and support services to maintain journal subscriptions.
Without swift intervention, this will begin to have even greater detrimental effects on library services. UConn is among institutions considering how best to adapt our model of journal content access in ways that have less impact to the Library’s overall budget and acknowledge the paramount importance of journal access in the University’s mission of fostering excellence in research and instruction at all levels.
Based on our discussions as a committee, we are rolling out a pilot to test an alternate model of delivery that would be phased in over several years where journal subscriptions would not be renewed, and instead we would be able to provide articles on an a la carte basis at the same speed and convenience currently available. The change occurs primarily behind the scenes in how the Library pays for and delivers journal materials. Any decisions about journal subscriptions will in no way negatively impact other resources/services you have come to rely on including access to databases and other search tools to help you find the articles and other materials needed for your work.
Moreover, the approach is aimed at providing the same journal support at a cost that is viable long-term, which will allow us to address impending budgetary shortfalls in the Library and to re-invest any additional savings back into the Library to reverse damaging reductions in staffing and services over the past several years.
As we explore the necessary systems to support a potential widespread shift to an article-on-demand system, we will pilot the approach over the next six months with a small number of select journals (about 1% of current subscription and database titles held by the end of FY 2020-2021). During this interim period, the Library will share updates and progress on this website to keep our communities apprised. Work will continue over the spring and summer for an integrated approach to be piloted more broadly throughout the fall 2021 semester.
If this approach is not deemed acceptable, the committee will go back and work through other options. Regardless of the approach we decide upon, a commitment to the quality of journal service to the academic community will be foremost in our decisions.
The Library has created an FAQ about this project below.
Support of the mission of the Library to provide access to and stewardship of the world of information is of utmost importance. I know many of you understand the truly difficult situation the scholarly communications crisis has brought to universities across the U.S. Institutions are seeking ways to take aim at the pricing and publishing models that have led to this juncture, and we are carefully tracking the successes of other institutions as we seek solutions tailored best for UConn’s diverse users and needs.
Our success will provide an opportunity to manage our Library budget without the burden of being dominated by the unsustainable increasing costs of journal subscriptions. Instead, the Library will be positioned to be nimble in support of the critical endeavors of the Library and of the University as a whole. In close collaboration with the members of the Future of Journals Subscription Committee, Dean Langley and I will monitor and assess the transition throughout the pilot project. We encourage you to reach out to any of us with feedback and/or questions. You can also email the Library at email@example.com.
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs