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WVUL eResource Collections Evaluation Toolkit

Clearly Articulate the Goals of the Project

The first step in the project is to clearly outline the goals of the study. A cogent statement of near term (and even long term) goals will help everyone involved stay focused on the task(s) at hand.  Ask: “Why are we embarking on this evaluation project and what do we hope to get out of it?”  If the project will expand in the future, then indicate that fact in your goal statement.  This step is very important, since the stated goals of the project will be used as the centerpiece in communicating with the library staff, teaching and research faculty, and the university provost.   

Examples of near term goals might include:

  1. To address near term budget cuts;
  2. To manage costs;
  3. To establish a policy for retention and cancellation of journal subscriptions;
  4. To accumulate data for future decision-making and budget allocations;
  5. To revise the overarching collection development policy.

Determine the Scope of the Project

The second step in getting started is to decide what will be done over a specified period of time.  For example:


  1. Is there a target budget reduction for the year?  If so, determine the dollar amount.
  2. Will all packages be examined in one year, or will the focus be on one or two packages?
  3. How many years of data will be examined?
  4. Will overlap with full-text databases be included?
  5. Will Interlibrary Loan (ILL) data be folded into the analysis of usage?
  6. Will on demand services be investigated as an alternative?  

As the scope is developed, keep in mind the time-line for the annual renewal cycle of journals, including finalizing the title list, negotiating with vendors, and the schedule for payments, including early subscription payments.  Since most vendors need to have a finalized version of title lists in the fall for the year (Sept/Oct), the scope should describe work that can be done between the start date of the project and the September deadline for final titles lists.  If the library plans to take advantage of the vendor’s early payment schedule, the work in the scope should be completed by early July to allow time for negotiations.  Hence, the scope of the project depends greatly on when the tasks of data collection and analysis begins and the amount of work that can be accomplished by the target end date.

Define the players in the evaluation, along with their roles and responsibilities

Once the goals and scope have been created, identify the staff who will work on the project.  WVUL developed a coordinated project plan which included staff from Library Administration, KARM (Technical Services), Selectors, and Interlibrary Loan Staff. A Collections Committee was created to provide leadership and coordinate between the library departments.


  1. List the potential players
  2. Clearly designate roles for each of the players.  Examples include:
    • Data collection from vendor WEB sites, ILL statistics, overlap data between journal subscriptions and full-text/aggregator databases, and compilation of the data;
    • Analysis of the data;
    • Developing the criteria for subscription decision-making;
    • Publisher contacts and negotiations, including consortia contacts;
    • Communication with the teaching and research faculty.
  3. Develop internal communication practices and channels to enable easy flow of information across departments
  4. Sharing data (posting, email notifications, etc.);
  5. Sharing established retention/cancelation criteria.


Build a work plan

A workplan that everyone can see is very important for planning purposes and is key in communication across the staff.  It will help define the scope, timeline, and responsible parties for each part of the project. The heading on the workplan should be a statement of purpose for the project.  The work plan itself may be organized in various ways.  WVUL used an Excel spreadsheet to describe its plan of work.

See our sample work plan