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The Library implements a cost reduction strategy

Posted on Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Collections budget is facing a perfect storm of budgetary challenges this year and the Library must implement a cost reduction strategy to maintain its ability to acquire and make accessible scholarly resources for the university community while ensuring a balanced budget.

Major issues

  • The major drop in the Canadian dollar this past year has translated into a significant loss of purchasing power.  About 55% of our collections budget is spent in acquiring material from US sources (in US dollars).
  • Inflation on journals is expected to be 6-8% this year; inflation on research databases is expected to be in the 3-5% range. Inflation has a major, ongoing impact on our purchasing power.
  • The Library’s collections budget did not receive a cost-of-living increase for 2015/16.   Since 1997-98 we have received annually an indexation amount of 5% (except for 2007-08 to 2010-11 when we received 10%, and 2014-15 when we received 3%) which has allowed us to maintain collections and make investments in new scholarly resources.
  • The University has provided $500,000 (one-time-only) for this year, to provide temporary financial relief.

In order to maintain an effective and fiscally responsible collections budget, we have determined that we need to cut $1,062,947 from our serials & databases this year.

The Central Administration has recently approved a one-time allocation of $500,000 which allows us to reduce this target to $562,947.  Additional cuts may be required in fiscal year 2016/17.

We have determined that we will lose at least $1,391,855 in purchasing power from our books budget this year, if current trends continue.


  • Maintain core strategic resources for research, teaching, and scholarship, to minimize the impact of cancellations to the greatest extent possible;
  • Reduce duplication of content between formats or between resources;
  • Maintain access to ‘owned’ e-content and e-content for which we have perpetual-access rights;
  • Purchase materials in electronic format (versus print) where possible. Exceptions may occur where print better meets disciplinary or other needs;
  • Focus on full-text content accessible through a range of discovery tools that maximize visibility and usage of our collection.


The following criteria are being applied to assess the resources in our collection and to make decisions that will have the least possible impact on the work of faculty and students:

  • Low demonstrated demand and use;
  • Not needed to support the curriculum;
  • High or unjustified cost;
  • Duplication of print when available online with a record of increases that far exceed the rate of inflation;
  • Lack of uOttawa researchers citing the resource;
  • Lack of perpetual access to content;
  • Problematic licensing terms;
  • Duplication of database content with another resource;
  • Better alternative sources for content;
  • Embargo periods in databases, i.e. a length of time during which the current content is not  available;
  • Preference for full-text rather than abstracting & indexing resources, as per disciplinary practices;
  • Issues with discoverability through catalogue and or discovery layer.

New Professors’ Fund

For the past ten years, the Library has provided a one-time $2,000 allocation to new tenure-track professors to acquire library materials in their first year of employment. This will no longer be a separate fund, but the Library will continue to support new tenure track professors through its monograph funds and subject librarians will work with new faculty to acquire new materials to support research and teaching needs. Subject librarians will be contacting the new professors to discuss how the Library can support their research needs and other areas of potential collaboration.

Open Access Investment Strategy

Since 2010, the Library has administered the University’s Open Access Author Fund to support researchers publishing in open access.  From 2010 to 2014 the Fund saw steadily increasing usage, funding over 500 articles by 350 authors with money provided by the central administration ($90,000 base funding) and substantial additional financial support from the Library’s collections budget.   By fall of 2014, we had received an unprecedented number of applications and the budget was fully committed as of October 2014. As a result, we had to suspend the Fund.

The recent announcement of the Tri-Agency Open Access Policy and our new fiscal year has provided an opportunity to refocus and renew our commitment to OA in a responsible and ultimately more sustainable manner.  As a result, we are discontinuing the Author Fund and redeploying the $90,000 in base funding to support strategic memberships in open access initiatives that will support our researchers in publishing their findings in quality research journals.  More information will be forthcoming soon.

A Last Word

We thank you for your understanding and collaboration as we progress through this exercise.  We will shortly be communicating via the library website the listing of resources that have been discontinued.


About uOttawa Library’s Collections

The depth and breadth of the library’s collections places us in the top tier of Canadian research libraries, ranking 5th in the Canadian Association of Research Libraries group.

The University of Ottawa Library ranks 43rd amongst the 115 libraries listed in the Association of Research Libraries’ Library Investment Index.

The Library provides online access to:

  • More than 1.1 million e-books;
  • 104,000 e-journals;
  • About 900 research and full text databases.

uOttawa Library’s physical collections include:

  • More than 2.3 million print books;
  • 419,000 maps;
  • 270,000 audiovisual materials.
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