In FY 2017, 99.5% of Central University Libraries´ (CUL) budget allocation was spent on
journals and databases (¨continuations"). Annual increases to the Libraries' budget are typically in the 3-4 percent range though annual serials inflation is typically 5-6 percent.
(Source: EBSCO Serials Price Projections reports) Continuations expenditures have now consumed
the entire allocated budget (books and other materials are purchased primarily from endowments).
We may need to cut continuations expenditures if no other sources of funding are available to
What is the "Big Deal"?
Vendors offer libraries “big deals,” in which the vendor takes the library’s
previous expenditures on its journals, and throws in all the rest of the titles it publishes for
a flat (usually low) fee. Big Deals are typically multi-year contracts, with capped
price increases per year (normally 4-5%). While the contracts keep the annual price increases
predictable, being in these contracts ties up the majority of our annual budgets. Big
Deal contracts are also restrictive in that we cannot reduce the number of titles in our
packages to spend less.
In terms of cost per use, they are good deals. However, without greater increases to the
library's acquisitions budget,we will likely be unable to renew Big Deal contracts.
When exiting a Big Deal, libraries should be prepared to lose access to some content.
What this means for your journal access:
There are two categories of journals in a typical “big deal:” subscribed and
unsubscribed. Subscribed titles are those for which the library pays individually (typically the
ones the library had subscriptions to before the Big Deal started). Unsubscribed titles are the
other titles provided for the flat fee.
We retain access to subscribed titles for the years we paid for a subscription. For most
Elsevier titles, access will be 1997-present, if we continue to subscribe. For anything
that was previously subscribed that we choose to cancel, access will be 1997-2018. We do not
retain access to unsubscribed titles. Interlibrary Loan will continue to be available for any
materials needed for research but not available through SMU Libraries.
These charts include spending from both budgeted and endowed funds. As you can see,
continuations are increasingly consuming the annual budget. The amount of spending consumed
by the Elsevier Big Deal invoice has risen from 16% in 2011 to 24% in 2017. In order
to afford the resources necessary to the university, we may need to make cancelations and leave
Big Deal contracts.
What the library is currently doing:
We are currently gathering data about: which publications are used most at SMU (from
vendors), which publications SMU researchers cite most frequently (from Web of Science), and
which publications SMU faculty consider essential to their teaching and research. All of
this information will be compiled, and journals in the sciences and engineering, arts and
humanities, and behavioral and social sciences will be evaluated separately. This will
account for differing citation patterns across disciplines.
Our plan is to target the most-used, most-valued content to retain. Should funding
from SMU make it unnecessary to reduce content access, we will focus on structuring the
renewal so it is more cost-effective.