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Scholarly Publishing and Libraries

Current information on scholarly communication and issues impacting library collections and budget constraints

Journal Unbundling: How faculty and libraries work together

just in case / just in time

Big Picture

Libraries, even research libraries are finding it difficult to continue to buy everything available. This is causing us to shift from collecting for every possibility, to focusing on how to meet the needs at hand.

The Problem Information over-abundance


There is an over-abundance of information. Too much to collect and also expensive.  Digitization has made sharing with other libraries easier.

Journal Packages

Many vendors of electronic journals are bundling titles into packages for subscription, but the same way your cable company bundles television stations into cable packages.  The good news is that it makes each individual title cheaper. The bad news is we get some titles we didn’t ask for, get in other ways, or do not need.

journal inflation

Journal Inflation

Meanwhile, just as general journals subscription costs increase every year, so do the journal packages.  We can’t keep pace.

(Chart from University of Pittsburgh Libraries)

Bundled Packages at WVU

In 2016 our top three bundles supplied approximately 2% of the journal titles to which we subscribe.

And yet they consumed over 1/3rd of our materials budget.

handshaking on a deal

How will we unbundle?

This work needs to involve conversations with our vendors.

It also means we will sometimes make internal decisions to unbundle packages and just keep what we need. We do this through examining usage and cost data.