Faculty may recommend new journal or database subscriptions at any time; all requests are recorded in an internal 'wish list' database as they are received. New subscriptions are carefully evaluated because they entail a long-term financial commitment, and are subject to potentially unpredictable future price increases. Considerations include: availability of institutional/library license, publication/database quality (content, indexing, publisher reputation, usability); relevance to the current curriculum; uniqueness of content compared to materials already in the library collection; and cost. In some cases the library may arrange for a free-trial and ask faculty and students to provide feedback prior to a decision. Subscriptions that are not added are retained on the wish list for review in subsequent fiscal years.
The library has highly effective interlibrary loan services for fast delivery of individual articles and books that are requested by students and faculty, at no cost to the requestor. For occasionally-used journal titles, interlibrary loan provides effective access at an affordable cost. Eighty percent of ILLIAD article requests are delivered electronically in an average delivery time of 13 hours. Interlibrary loan request patterns are examined regularly to identify materials that should be added to our local collection due to high demand.
The library assesses use of both print and electronic resources through a variety of techniques, including use of COUNTER reports (standards for e-resource use issued by the National Information Standards Organization). Further consideration is given to the size of the Dickinson population being served, so that departments with a small number of faculty and majors are not disadvantaged in access to the essential materials for their disciplines. Discussions with liaison librarians and faculty take place prior to the decision to cancel particular subscriptions. The result has been highly selective cancellation of a small number of low-use/occasional-use titles so that funds can be applied to acquisition of newly requested materials.
Annual increases in journal and database costs far exceed general inflation, affecting the library’s ability to purchase newly requested materials within a sustainable budget. Between 2010 and 2014, journal subscription prices for academic libraries increased by 25%. The 2015 Serials Price Projection Report from EBSCO Information Services projects an increase of 5 to 7 percent for library subscription prices. The library uses a variety of strategies to contain costs while maintaining access to needed material.