KU Libraries Content Budget Update

The dramatic increase in the cost of obtaining scholarly resources, and the bundling of journal titles into “big deals,” has created a crisis for library resources. At the same time, our library base collections budget has not increased, and the cost of serials is reducing our ability to purchase other materials. The current system is unsustainable, and we want you to be aware of changes anticipated for the coming years.

KU Libraries’ base collections budget of approximately $7.4 million has not increased since 2009, while the cost of resources rises exponentially. The overall costs of providing library materials increase annually due to inflation, currency fluctuation, and changes in publisher pricing models. While private donations have increased, these funds often place restrictions on the range of materials that can be acquired.

The cost of electronic resources – which represents approximately 70% of our collections expenditures – increases at an average rate of 4% to 5% annually, meaning the spending power of even the flat collections budget under which we have operated for 10 years has significantly diminished. We have not been able to absorb these costs without cancellations and reevaluation of collection management methods. As a result, we are falling behind our peers in library collection growth.

Over the past 10 years, KU Libraries have cancelled resources totalling close to $1.4 million. While each year we have cancelled lower-use resources, we are now identifying more heavily used resources to cut. In 2017, the Springer journal package – which provided access to approximately 1,700 titles – was cancelled. Now, KU Libraries and University of Kansas Medical Center subscribe to only 50 Springer titles and must pay list price (higher cost) per title – for example, Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences alone costs $6,141 annually. In negotiations, individually and through consortia, publishers are unwilling to lower prices or modify annual increases despite steady annual profit margins. KU Libraries can no longer support these “big deal” options from major publishers.

Similar reviews are underway for potential cancellations of other “big deal” journal packages – including Oxford, Sage, Wiley, and Elsevier. Together these packages include over 5,000 titles. We understand that the libraries’ resources are vital for the work that you do, and we will continue to approach this situation in a thoughtful and transparent way.

KU and KU Libraries continue to lead in a number of open access initiatives that support free and unrestricted access to scholarship globally and to our own published work. Visit our frequently asked questions page to learn more about access alternatives, collaborative cost containment, and other collection management strategies the libraries are pursuing.

Though challenges lie ahead, KU Libraries are dedicated to serving the evolving needs of scholars, students, and instructors at the University of Kansas, and we appreciate your continued support.

KU Today