Background: Collections cost reduction 2015

For several years the SFU Library has worked hard to maintain monograph allocations and serials subscriptions with budget increases that have not kept pace with increases in the cost of scholarly research resources.

Journal costs rise on average between 6 and 8% per year and academic book prices have increased by an average of 4.1% over the past four years. These increases are far above the average annual Canadian inflation rate (CPI average from 2011-2014 was 1.46%).

The Library makes every effort to reduce the impact these increases have on the budget using the following resources:

  • Consortial Memberships: we belong to national, regional and provincial consortia who negotiate with vendors on behalf of their membership for many of the most expensive journal packages and databases, resulting in discounts and lower increases
  • Book Wholesaler: we use a vendor for the majority of our purchases and they offer a healthy discount on most titles
  • Expertise in Negotiation: we follow-up with vendors whenever a renewal quote is received that is unreasonably high and inquire about a reduction.


This chart illustrates the decrease in purchasing power to the Collections budget since the 2011/12 fiscal year:

chart showing decrease in library purchasing power since 2011-2012


The decline in the value of the Canadian dollar against the US dollar in the past two years has added to the decrease in purchasing power. Over 80% of the Collections budget is invoiced in USD. For the 2014/15 fiscal year the Library asked the Administration for assistance in covering the increased costs due to the USD exchange rate; we were fortunate to receive one-time money at year end for this. The Library is working with the Finance Department and the University Administration to find an ongoing solution to the impact of exchange rates on the budget.

It has been over 5 years since the last budget reduction exercise and there have been very few cancellations in the intervening years. The chronic high subscription cost increases of scholarly journals published by commercial publishers affect all academic libraries and we are by no means alone in needing to go through a collections cost reduction exercise. In the past two years, UBC, University of Alberta, University of Manitoba, Brock University, Université de Montréal & Dalhousie University have all gone through serials cancellations. 

The principles and strategies that are guiding this process are listed under Task Group / Process. Our rationale for focusing this reduction on serials can be found there as well. 

SFU Library's excellent Interlibrary Loans service fills 60% of journal article requests within 2 business days, with the majority of the remaining requests filled in 4-5 business days. The ILL service is robust, flexible and automated and will be able to absorb increased traffic that may result from reduced subscriptions. 

To ensure a balanced collections budget for 2015/16 the Library must find savings of about $500,000 (approximately 6% of the budget).

Please see Titles Considered for Cancellation & Decisions for the list of resources which liaison librarians identified by applying the Principles and Strategies established by the Collections Budget Reduction Task Group. The feedback we received during the consultation period (April 20 - May 25 2015) was instrumental in assisting the Task Group to make final cancellation decisions.