Frequently Asked Questions about Collections Development and Budget

How are titles selected for review and/or cancellation?

All library materials are reviewed, including databases, journals and books.

Since a review is a comprehensive evaluation of all subscription-based costs, it is important to assess all print and online journal and database titles to which KU Libraries currently subscribe. The evaluation of journals involves a combination of quantitative, qualitative and cost measures. To this end, librarians compile data for evaluation such as cost, usage and circulation data, journal impact factors, frequency of publication and citation analysis of the journals KU researchers use. KU librarians strive to collect as much data as possible to inform decisions.

How can I get access to titles once they have been cancelled?

A number of journal titles are duplicated and would remain available through other full text aggregator databases such as Academic Search Complete or Business Source Complete. To see the sources that provide online access to a title, please use the e-Journals search.

The libraries’ Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery service can be used to request materials that the libraries do not own. Most journal articles are delivered directly to you at no charge in less than 24 hours.

What are KU Libraries doing to manage collections?

We understand that the libraries’ resources are vital for the work that you do, and we will continue to approach budgetary constraints in thoughtful and transparent ways, as illustrated below.


  • Participate in state, regional, and national consortia and utilize these memberships to purchase electronic resources at a lower cost whenever possible
  • ​License many resources with Archie R. Dykes Library of the Health Sciences at the University of Kansas Medical Center (KU Med)
  • Partner with schools and departments across campus to purchase and maintain a number of critical collections. Examples include: SeekEdgar (School of Business), PharmacyLibrary (School of Pharmacy), IEEE Xplore (School of Engineering), and ProQuest Legislative Insight (School of Law Wheat Law Library)
  • Manage the One University Open Access Author Fund at the University of Kansas with KU-Med which helps authors to publish in open access journals.

Review and negotiation processes:

  • Review resources annually for continuation, renegotiation, or cancellation
  • Negotiate persistently with vendors and publishers to garner the best prices and terms for KU
  • Review collecting practices to consider alternative cost saving methods
  • License and purchase for the research and teaching needs reflected currently on campus.  We can no longer purchase “just in case” it might be needed in the future
  • Break up the “big deals” of journal packages due to unsustainably high annual costs and inflexible business models
  • Project content budgeting three years into the future

Continue to:

  • Shift to a more patron-driven approach to collecting monographs and accessing resources
  • Adopt interlibrary loan practices and technologies that significantly decrease time between request and delivery, often within 24 hours
  • Shift spending where possible to endowment funds
  • Support open access initiatives. For example: Knowledge Unlatched; PeerJ; Hathitrust

How has the flat budget influenced monograph purchasing?

As an increasing portion of the flat collections budget must be spent on inflation other scholarly publishing costs, this has a significant impact on the libraries’ book purchasing. Expenditures for monographs decreased more than $700,000 from FY 2010 to FY 2020 – around 43%.

How can KU faculty, staff, and students help?

The KU community can engage in activities that can affect change on scholarly communication.

  • Publish research in open access journals to eliminate financial barriers. Please consult the Directory of Open Access journals for titles in your field
  • Share your research output – when possible – in KU ScholarWorks, our digital repository
  • Learn more about journal pricing and inflation
  • Stay aware of publisher policies regarding authors’ retention of copyright
  • Support the efforts by professional associations, societies, and other organizations to develop alternative, less-costly means of distributing scholarly information
  • Examine the costs of scholarly journals in which you publish, as well as any service on editorial boards

To learn more about getting actively involved in open publishing practices and copyright, please consult with faculty within the Shulenburger Office of Scholarly Communication & Copyright.

What are the “big deal” journal packages?

“Big deals” are packages offered to libraries based on a library’s previous expenditures on journals, and usually include all of the rest of the publishers’ titles for a flat fee. These are obtained through multi-year contracts, with specific capped annual price increases – around 4% to 5%. While they are predictable for budgeting, they are incredibly restrictive because libraries cannot reduce the number of titles in order to spend less. Without increases to our collections budget, we will not be able to renew several of these contracts.

Many academic libraries are choosing to break away from these big deal packages. A list of these libraries has been gathered by the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC).

What are some examples of costs and annual increases?

  • Molecular Biology Reports increased 279% between FY18 to FY19 to $3,729 and has been cancelled
  • Springer Journals increased 9.9% in FY20 to $101,757
  • MLA International Bibliography increased 17.25% between FY18 and FY21 to $12,311
  • PsycInfo increased 10.25% between FY18 and FY20 to $37,926
  • Chicago Manual of Style increased 25% between FY18 and FY20 to $1,700

Are new materials being purchased?

New subscriptions and content decisions are based on requests from the KU community. New requests for consideration can be made by completing our Purchase Request Form. New and updated content is announced on the libraries’ webpage.

Whom should I contact at the libraries for more information?

For more information or any questions please contact KU’s collections development librarians directly at