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New Mexico State University

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Does this serials review process imply that a cut or a reduction in serials is imminent?
No. This is not a serials cancellation project. We do not have a dollar amount or a percentage that we must meet to balance our serials budget. Nevertheless, serials costs are increasing dramatically, often in the double digits, and we struggle every year to balance campus research and curricular needs with our static budget. Our goal for this project is that academic departments and individuals take a critical look at serials subscriptions in their areas of interest to optimize what we get for what we pay.

Why are you using an acronym like SCRAP when you say this isn't a serials cut? Doesn't that acronym imply a cut is imminent?
No. The SCRAP acronym does not imply that a cut is imminent although based on our history of cancellations projects, we understand that this acronym might be perceived to carry that message. We are not scrapping serials subscriptions. We are scrapping:

  • The panicked serials cancellation projects of the past 15 to 20 years where we announced to the NMSU community that we had to cancel X amount by Y date in order to meet our budget.
  • The drop/add period that we conduct every year in September because it gave departments little time to make decisions, we were not equipped to supply a lot of data (historic price data, print and online usage, etc.) and because it dealt with serials review on a small, department-specific level instead of the broader view that we are taking with this project.
  • Our current serials funding structures. We are moving to a new model that increases participation and decision making and that better reflects our current research and curricular needs.

You have asked us to prioritize our serials list into three categories with 1 as a high and 3 as a low. What if our department lists no 3's?
We are hoping that the NMSU community works with the Library to seriously evaluate serials titles, their costs, their usage, and, most importantly, their value to the campus. We expect that after reviewing these serials lists and discussing broadly the merits of individual titles that folks will see some titles as less important than others and we expect that departments will have some 3's on their list.

How relevant is this usage data? My colleagues and I use serials in ways that are most likely invisible to the Library. We rarely, if ever use the print volumes. As for the online serials titles, I, like my colleagues, have a direct link to my preferred subscribed journal packages on my computer. In fact, I bypass the library completely once I go through the my.nmsu.edu password screen so the Library doesn't know what I use.
Usage is not easily quantifiable because a "usage" carries no universal meaning except that someone checked out a print volume or that someone viewed a full text article. These usage statistics should be looked at in very broad terms and within the context of other criteria such as research value, value to the profession, value to knowledge, etc. Departments may wish to look at which journals they cite, which ones they publish in and which titles are most relevant for their students, perhaps by looking at frequently cited titles in student assignments. Overall, if a title is receiving little to no use over a period of time then we all need to look very closely at it.

Regarding online usage, even if folks have a direct link to a title via the publisher's web page, they still go through the my.nmsu.edu portal and the Library collects those usage statistics from the publisher.

What is the next step after we return our lists on Feb 28th?
In March the Library will compile all departments' and all individual rankings and then will distribute these lists to the Library's subject specialists who will confer and make recommendations as far as retention, additions and cancellations. In April, we will post a list of these recommendations on the Library's web site and give the NMSU community about a month to comment on these recommendations. By May 11, 2007 the Library will post the final list of changes to our subscriptions.

My department would rather not participate in this project. What is the Library's response?
We hope that all departments will participate in this very serious project. If departments decide not to participate, they are forfeiting an important opportunity to help shape the library's collections. In this situation, the Library will review that department's list and decide accordingly.

Who in the department is supposed to send the list back?
We have asked that each department head handle the return or else designate someone in the department to send back the list.

What about using the research overhead monies to offset a serials cut?
We have been using research overhead funding since 2002 to help us with serials subscription inflation and will continue to do so. Keep in mind, however, that this is not a serials cancellation project.

Let's say the Library adds and cancels some titles based on this project. When do these changes take effect?
Typically they take effect January 2008.

On the spreadsheets, what does the term "License restrictions may apply" mean?
In a number of cases, the library has developed license agreements with specific publishers. Although they vary, there are several advantages to these agreements. Specifically, the Library could benefit from:

  • Discounted prices and/or price caps on future years' subscription costs.
  • Online access to a more titles than our subscribed list (e.g., access to all Springer/Kluwer titles).
  • More extensive backfiles to subscribed titles.
  • Reduction in Interlibrary Loan transaction costs.

In return, the library agrees to maintain current levels of expenditures with the publisher. If the Library cancels titles, it needs to add other titles from that particular publisher so subscription costs remain the same. Also, an access fee may be required to for the Library's users to gain access to broader collections. In every case, however, the Library has an opt-out clause that allows it to cancel in the case of budget constraints.

What is the situation with journal titles that are fully available online and that faculty may use regularly, but are not on our departmental lists?
The library has license agreements with a number of publishers and one advantage of these agreements is access to a broader selection of titles beyond our subscribed list. For instance, the library has access to at least 182 titles from the Wiley publisher package, whereas the Library subscribes to only 52 Wiley titles. Only these 52 titles appear on department lists. The Library also has similar license agreements with Springer (over 1000 titles beyond the Library's subscribed list), Emerald (130 additional titles), the Institute of Physics, and the American Chemical Society.

Typically, the library will maintain electronic access to the subscribed years/backfiles of a title even if it is cancelled. However, if we cancel or not renew a license, we will lose all access to these additional package titles.

Departments should indicate the merit of (or include in their ranking) any currently accessible but unsubscribed titles. We need to know which titles you value. On our part, we are noting usage trends of these currently accessible/unsubscribed titles.