The Library cost reduction strategy: an update

Posted on Monday, January 11, 2016

The dramatic drop in the Canadian dollar (16% since May 2015), the impact of inflation on serials and databases (4-6% year), and the lack of indexation on our Collections budget this year have led to a difficult situation. We have been closely monitoring our expenditures in light of these factors. We are projecting a shortfall this year of $1,954,802.  This takes into account a one-time allocation of $500,000 from the central administration to help mitigate the current financial challenges.

  • We have cancelled 378 resources (individual journals, databases, reference works, and collections of ejournals or ebooks) for a total net savings of $1,241,125
  • We were guided by criteria such as eliminating duplication; low relevance for research and teaching; availability of alternate sources; high cost; low usage, and low demand.
  • The cancelled titles cover a broad range of disciplines across the spectrum of the university curriculum; every discipline has been impacted.
  • Regarding books, we are cutting our spending by $713,677 in order to manage our budget shortfall. For the first half of this fiscal year, we have ordered about 23% less books than the previous year:  12,393 this year versus 15,251 last year.  We expect this drop will be continued for the remainder of the year

Access to current content was lost on January 1, 2016. It is important to point out that we have not lost access to all of these titles; some will continue to be available through other channels, such as full-text databases to which we subscribe.

Here are examples of key cancellations:

  • Inspec database (physics, electronics): much of this literature is available in the Scopus and Web of Science databases
  • Compendex (engineering) databases: much of this literature is available in the Scopus and Web of Science databases
  • Palgrave journals (forty-two titles in political science, public policy, information technology, and management): available from other sources, with a delay period
  • Techniques de l’ingénieur (science and engineering) high cost and very low usage
  • Britannica Online (general encyclopedia): high cost; we can rely on the free version                    
  • Linguistic Bibliography Online (Linguistics literature worldwide): we have alternative sources for linguistics literature
  • ACLS Humanities (Ebooks in humanities and social sciences) : doesn’t offer offline reading, and no purchase option (only subscription)
  • Osiris (data on publicly traded global companies): very little use
  • Of fourteen Current Protocol subscriptions, we cut five titles (e.g. Current protocols in chemical biology, Current protocols in nucleic acid chemistry, Current protocols in cell biology, Current protocols in cytometry, Current protocols in human genetics) : high cost and low usage; others were deemed important for research and / or demonstrated high levels of usage.
  • OvidMD database: serves as a bridge between the full text content on the OVID platform and the point-of-care tool, UpToDate (which the Library canceled a number of years ago).
  • CCH Tax Online: is now available as a campus wide subscription and is the preferred source for Canadian tax law related content.
  • Several print law reporters were cancelled, including Federal trial reports, Ontario appeal cases, Canadian bankruptcy reports and Canadian cases on the law of insurance.  These reporters continue to be available to the uOttawa community through Westlaw Next and Maritime Law Book (MLB) online.

These decisions have allowed the library to maintain its subscriptions for major journal collections and databases for 2016.

For titles that are no longer available, you are welcome to use the Interlibrary Loans service to request copies of articles from other libraries. If you would like further information on resources available for your discipline or area of research, please contact your Subject librarian.


Looking ahead to next year (2016-2017)

  • We are forecasting that inflation on research databases is expected to be in the 3-5% range and 6-8% for journals. Inflation has a major, ongoing impact on our purchasing power. If we do not receive any indexation increase for the Collections budget, the shortfall due to inflation will be at least one million dollars. This will need to be cut from our ongoing expenditures.
  • The Canadian dollar is the other major challenge we face, since we purchase 55% of our resources in US dollars.  The exchange rate for next year is likely to stay in the current range of 1.25-1.35. This will add significantly to the shortfall above. 


If no indexation increase is provided to address these challenges, we would implement another cost reduction exercise, and consult the community for input. We are carefully monitoring our fiscal situation and will provide you with another update when we have further developments to share.

Please contact Leslie Weir (University Librarian) or Tony Horava (Associate University Librarian – Collections) with any questions regarding this process.  For specific questions about how this will affect your discipline, please contact your subject librarian.

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