Journals management surveys: Summary of results

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Schuster, Janice

Aug 13, 2022, 5:57:41 PM8/13/22
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Thank you to everyone who responded to my surveys. Here are my summaries.


Best regards,



Janice G. Schuster, M.L.S.  
 Electronic Resources & Serials Librarian / Associate Professor
 Phillips Memorial Library / Providence College   

 One Cunningham Square, Providence, RI 02918      

 401-865-2631 office / 508-801-8414 cell    



·         No institutional subscription for online journal, how do you handle?  

o    24 responses 

o    The majority of respondents (15) do not subscribe to the print if no institutional subscription is available. 

§  Others do subscribe to the print in rare circumstances, “have done in past,” if a faculty member requests a title for their research, “sometimes.” 

o    The majority also cancel the subscription if no institutional subscription is available. 

§  Some subscribe to print instead. 

§  It depends on coverage in databases. 

§  Don’t cancel if it’s a journal of interest to specific faculty members. 

§  Check usage of online (non-institutional) subscription; if it’s not being used, they contact the requestor. In some cases they end up canceling. 

§  Canceling depends on how important the title is to the curriculum. 

o    Other options? 

§  Get the print. 

§  We rely on Article Galaxy for journals we don’t subscribe to for other reasons. 

§  Interlibrary loan. 

§  Check later to see if institutional online subscription becomes available. 

§  Buy individual articles with a credit card. 

§  We’re small enough that a single user might work. 

§  We prefer print of some journals even if available online. 

§  The requestor could ask their department for funding for the subscription, or they could write it into a grant proposal if it's related to their research. 

§  Journals should be open access! 

§  Pay per view or token access. 

§  Set up TOC alerts. 

§  We ask the vendor if the credentials can be shared, if they can, then we make available to users upon request. 

§  We keep the journal if it's available online for free/Open Access. 

§  Occasionally, we will subscribe to something with username and password if a faculty member is willing to manage the account. This is only in the case of a class needing access. 

o    Anything else? 

§  We don’t subscribe if no institutional online access. Impossible to manage access. 

§  Online newspaper subscriptions are much different than typical e-journal or database accounts.  For instance, LA Times online does not provide any usage stats for customers. 

§  Most of our online journals are in packages. 

§  Titles that do not offer institutional subscriptions are often the ones that we have seen to discontinue publishing. 

§  We've developed a more stringent access policy for ejournals. Anything without institutional access is either subscribed in print (rare) or accessed via ILL. 


·         Have you switched to a different journals management vendor?  

o    5 responses 

o    Each had switched either in their current position or in a previous one. One switched from EBSCO to Faxon and then back to EBSCO before Faxon went out of business. 

o    The number of current journals subscriptions ranged from under 100 to 650. 

o    EBSCO, Harrasowitz, and WT Cox were mentioned as vendors. 

o    Factors considered included financial stability of the vendor, service fees including annual increases, customer service, do they keep on top of journals changes (title changes etc.), billing problems. 

o    Only one respondent had not switched; they are still mostly satisfied with EBSCO. 

o    The other respondents were satisfied with their new vendor. “Harrassowitz’s customer service is outstanding. They do wonderful work and are great about keeping us informed with our journal subscriptions.” “WT Cox’s customer service is outstanding and the fee is very reasonable.” 

o    Recommendations included looking at the vendor’s financials, should only change if there is truly a major issue, it’s a big project: give yourself lots of time, go with the smaller companies: you get personalized, committed service at a reasonable cost, and you can talk to a real person who knows you and can solve your problems. 


·         Current print journals: Have you considered canceling all or some of your subscriptions? 

o    24 responses  

o    Factors considered: 

§  Usage. 

§  Canceled when went remote in March of 2020 due to pandemic. 

§  Decreased number of “casual reading” titles for browsing. 

§  IP authenticated institutional online subscription available for reasonable cost? 

§  Relevancy to current curriculum. 

§  Space needs/constraints/costs. 

§  Perpetual access rights for online subscriptions. 

§  Coverage in full-text databases. 

§  Is the title “core” for the institution? 

§  Do other libraries in network own so could possibly get through interlibrary loan? 

§  Are there libraries that want the discarded volumes? 

§  Staff effort/time in maintaining print subscriptions. 

§  Canceled all except those for special collections/archives. “We kept a handful of other print where there was no online option and subject specialists deemed them essential.” 

§  Available full-text in JSTOR? 

§  Was the subscription originally requested by a faculty member? 

§  Price increase or that the existing price becomes too high. 

§  Recurrent delivery problems or publication delays. 

§  Change in content. 

§  Changed to online for 3 years to see if there was usage. 

§  No one reads print anymore. 

§  Current or future budget. 

§  Customer service from publisher (or from serials vendor such as EBSCO). 

§  Importance to relevant academic discipline. 

o    Pushback from faculty? 

§  “We sent a list of all print subscriptions to faculty and asked which ones they needed to keep. The ones they identified as must-haves (fewer than 15), we got electronic access if available, otherwise kept the print. The rest we cancelled.” 

§  Only mild negative reaction from faculty. Most pushback was from library staff who had fond memories of the print. Most of our usage was already for online instead of print. Students barely noticed. 

§  Some comments from faculty who liked to browse through the current print issue. We tried to replicate that with BrowZine but didn’t get the usage to support it. 

§  Some pushback from Nursing faculty. 

§  Some faculty felt their department was being targeted. 

§  Faculty in history, literature and other liberal arts areas tended to object more. Sharing subscription cost information with them helped; many didn’t realize how expensive journals are. 

§  No because most of the decisions were made in consultation with faculty. 

§  If there’s pushback, we offer interlibrary loan. 

o    Advice? 

§  Just do it! 

§  Don’t cancel solely because the title is available in an online database. Consider a direct online subscription. 

§  Do you need a title for accreditation? 

§  Doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Pay attention to licensing terms and authentication options if replacing with online subscriptions. Check for perpetual access; how will the publisher provide it? 

§  We canceled our approx. 30 print titles between 2018 and 2020; no one seemed to notice. They did notice that we never resumed getting print newspapers. 

§  Check with department’s faculty before canceling. 

§  Do it, but carefully. 

§  Keep careful records of each decision: price history, feedback from faculty about how they use a title for their students or research, etc. 

§  Print journals tend to be very poorly used in all institutions. Unless there are strong reasons for keeping them, they’re taking up unnecessary space. 

§  Does the title have graphics that don’t translate well online? 

§  Is it an essential title that’s not available online? 

§  Inform users why you’re canceling the print and let them know of online alternatives. 

§  Involve faculty when possible. Ask if they would be happy with the online version of a print title. 

§  We send a preliminary survey to an academic department asking how often they use certain print titles (if at all). We hinted that money saved in print subscriptions could be used for another online journal or database subscription. 

§  Try to move from print to online. 

o    Anything else? 

§  We canceled all print newspaper subscriptions in 2020. 

§  History faculty especially want us to continue to subscribe to the print of certain journals. 

§  We canceled all print titles except for 2 that are not available online that are specific to our institution. 

§  We moved the few remaining print titles to our general circulating stacks and made the print periodicals a closed collection. 

§  We review journals - print and electronic - every year and cut some titles every year. After a few years of this, we started to have a little room in the budget to start to add a few new journals that faculty requests, though we will not get anything that isn't available online. 

§  We rely on usage heavily to decide what to keep or cut, though a few places still do not provide good usage data. 

§  Transparent communication and offering to help faculty find other options can make the cancellation process easier.  Your library probably subscribes to other titles within the same subject areas as the titles up for cancellation, and unless you have PhD-level researchers at your institution, faculty and students are unlikely to need specific journal titles for their academic or teaching success. 

§  If there is pushback, consider keeping titles for a certain time frame, see if there is usage.  Inform your users that lack of use could result in cancellation, particularly if there is a online version that is being used.  There are still society publications, etc. that are print only, so a small print collection may be within your serials budget.   

§  Our library devised a system years ago that labeled journals (print and electronic) core (essential to an academic program) or noncore (not essential).  This system has helped us identify major titles in a field with the faculty from each department.   

§  We have some staff who donates print versions of our online journals, so that we have a backup. 



From: Schuster, Janice
Sent: Thursday, August 4, 2022 11:13 AM
To: jsch...@providence.ed
Subject: Journals management surveys


Dear colleagues,

Please consider responding to these very brief surveys. Thank you!


No institutional subscription for online journal, how do you handle?


Have you switched to a different journals management vendor?


Current print journals: Have you considered canceling all or some of your subscriptions?


Best regards,



 Janice G. Schuster, M.L.S.  
 Electronic Resources & Serials Librarian / Associate Professor
 Phillips Memorial Library / Providence College   

 One Cunningham Square, Providence, RI 02918      

 401-865-2631 office / 508-801-8414 cell    







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