Lisa O'Hara, Vice Provost (Libraries) & University Librarian
The University of Manitoba Libraries (UML) is continuously working to align our services and resources with the teaching, learning, and research needs of faculty and students. In doing so, we are confident that we are meeting the objectives the University has set out in its strategic plan.
In keeping with this, over the coming months the UML will be undertaking a review of our journals and database subscriptions in order to help us identify resources we may not renew in the 2020/2021 fiscal year. We will also engage faculty and students to learn about specific needs and content to inform our renewal decisions.
Three influencing factors are prompting this review: increased subscription costs, increasing consolidation in publishing, and hold-steady budgets.
Electronic resources continue to consume a greater and greater proportion of library budgets, to the exclusion of other content and activities. While the Canadian Consumer Price Index has averaged less than 2% over the past decade, commercial publishers are routinely imposing annual subscription increases of between 5% and 7%.
In addition to the unsustainable rising cost of subscriptions, which is set by publishers, there is increasing oligopoly in publishing – fewer companies control more and more of the content, and thus the price.
The University and the Libraries cannot sustain these increased subscription costs.
This situation is not unique to U of M. Many academic libraries across North America are also struggling to maintain a robust array of subscriptions and have already responded to outdated subscription models and unsustainable subscription costs. A recent example of this is the University of California’s walking away from negotiations with Elsevier and the University of Saskatchewan cancelling Taylor & Francis.
For more than 20 years, the UML has worked through consortia to leverage greater purchasing power and limit the subscription increases whenever possible. We also have reciprocal interlibrary loan agreements with other academic institutions. In addition, we have staff and resources to support researchers in their efforts to open their research, including knowledge mobilization support and MSpace.
The UML will make every effort to engage with the University community as well as take into consideration several criteria in our decisions: resource usage, the ability to obtain content in another way, such as open sources and interlibrary loan, and the strategic resources that support teaching, learning, and research needs.
The UML will also be regularly updating our web site with a timeline of important dates, answers to frequently asked questions, and content identified for non-renewal, as these information pieces become available. Additionally, your liaison librarian is available to answer questions or to redirect technical or administrative questions to me, the Associate University Librarian for Research, or to our Collections Management Coordinator.
Vice Provost (Libraries) and University Librarian