Post-Secondary Acquisitions Budget Challenges: A Canadian Perspective
Post-Secondar y Acquisitions Budget Challenges: A Canadian Perspective
Michael Shires 0 1 2
0 University of Regina
1 by Michael Shires, Collection Development and Liaison Librarian, University of Regina , 3737 Wascana Parkway, Regina, SK S4S 0A2 Canada; Phone: 306-585-5418
2 Collection Development and Liaison Librarian, University of Regina 3737 Wascana Parkway , Regina, SK S4S 0A2 Canada Phone: (306) 585-5418 •
Follow this and additional works at: https://docs.lib.purdue.edu/atg Part of the Library and Information Science Commons Recommended Citation
The University of Regina Library has been experiencing
acquisitions budget challenges for years. The analogy of an acquisitions
budget ticking time bomb describes the transition over the past several
years from the University Library acquiring mainly print resources
to primarily electronic resources. By 2014-2015 a majority of the
Library’s budget (79%) was allocated to online resources.
and Nelke, February 25 and 29, 2016)
Acquisitions budget challenges
have been compounded by increases in expenditures due largely to
annual inflationary increases of electronic subscriptions. Additionally,
purchasing power was significantly reduced in 2015 by a weakened
Canadian dollar (CAD). Approximately 82% of University of Regina
Library resources are priced in U.S. dollars (USD).
Nelke, February 25 and 29, 2016)
The article will discuss the challenges
the University Library faced with experiencing a rapid weakening of
the CAD, a subsequent large budget shortfall, developing a strategy to
review subscription renewals, and communicating cancellations and the
new fiscal reality to faculty.
Located in the capital city of Regina in the Western Canadian
province of Saskatchewan, the University of Regina is a mid-sized
comprehensive institution. It was established as Regina College in
1911 by the Methodist Church. The college later became a satellite
campus of the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon. The University
of Regina was established as an autonomous university in 1974. The
main campus and historic College Avenue campus utilize more than
75 hectares in Wascana Park which is one of the largest urban parks in
(University of Regina, 2014/15 Annual Report, 4)
University works closely with its three federated colleges: Campion
College, First Nations University of Canada, and Luther College.
All degrees are issued by the University of Regina. The University
has 10 faculties, 25 academic departments, and 18 research centres and
institutes with programs leading to bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral
(University of Regina, Campus Facts, 2015/16)
120 undergraduate programs and 78 graduate programs are offered.
(University of Regina Profile, 2015)
Full-time equivalent student
enrollment in Fall 2015 was 12,177. (University of Regina, Campus
Exchange Rate Challenges
Many U.S. based organizations conduct foreign business
transactions using the USD. This has been the scenario with post-secondary
libraries in Canada that have signed license agreements with U.S. based
companies in the library and information management industry.
Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN) recently investigated
measures to mitigate risk in post-secondary libraries associated with the
fluctuating CAD/USD exchange rate. CRKN is a partnership of 75
Canadian universities and it undertakes many licensing initiatives on
behalf of those institutions. In University Library Acquisitions Budgets:
Foreign Exchange Risk and CRKN, a report by CRKN and available
only to its members, stated:
According to Statistics Canada and the Canadian Association of
University Business Officers (CAUBO), Canadian university
libraries expend some $358M annually on library acquisitions...
CRKN manages roughly $100M through negotiating licenses
for electronic research content. Approximately 95% of CRKN’s
licences...are negotiated and settled in USD...in aggregate, 60%
of Canadian university library acquisition budgets are exposed
to USD foreign exchange risk. (CRKN, 3)
The recent decline of the CAD has compounded an already difficult
funding environment and has added a layer of complexity with setting
acquisitions budgets. The CAD has appreciated and deappreciated
relative to its U.S. counterpart for a variety of reasons — from a low
of 61.98 cents U.S. (1.6134 CAD/USD) in 2002 to a high of 108 cents
U.S. (0.9259 CAD/USD) in 2007. (CRKN, 6) Then the CAD rose to
average around parity against the USD between 2010 and 2013.
However, the CAD drastically fell from 83.82 cents U.S.
(1.19 CAD/USD) in January 2015 to 69.97 cents U.S. (1.42 CAD/USD)
in January 2016.
(Bank of Canada 2015-16)
Like many institutions
in Canada, the University of Regina had not experienced a currency
crisis of this magnitude since the CAD reached an all-time low against
the USD in 2002.
Large Budget Shortfalls
CRKN’s report provided sobering statistics about declining
Canadian university expenditures spent on library acquisitions:
Between 2000 and 2014 nominal (i.e., unadjusted for inflation)
funding for acquisitions increased by an average of 4.04%.
During this same time, total university revenues have increased
at an average of 6.83% annually (with component provincial
grants increasing by 5.73%, and tuition and fees increasing by
8.3% annually). As a result, the proportion of university
expenditures spent on library acquisitions has decreased nearly every
year — from 2.6% in 2000 to 1.65% in 2014. (4)
The University of Regina has experienced a similar situation by
its acquisitions budget decreasing 7% between 2008-09 and 2015-16.
(University of Regina Library, 2015)
In fact the Library’s
acquisitions budget in 2000-01 ($2,998,682 CAD) was higher than in 2015-16.
(Murphy and Nelke, 2016) During that time the Library managed
shortfalls by using voluntary staff retirements from its operating budget
and capitalizing on a healthier USD exchange rate. In 2014-15 there
was a smaller University Library shortfall of approximately $230,000
CAD. This was covered by six library staff (one professional and five
support staff) out of 15 who participated in the University’s Voluntary
Incentive Plan for Retirement (VIPR) plan.
The analogy of the University of Regina Library’s acquisitions
budget being a ticking time bomb is indicative of three trends: transition
from acquiring mainly print resources to primarily electronic resources;
annual inflationary cost of leased big deal packages; increased licensing
costs of big deal packages based upon the rising full-time equivalent
(FTE) student enrollment. As per board policy the University of
Regina’s Board of Governors approved a balanced operating budget for
2015-16 [21st consecutive year]... and reductions of 2.15 million CAD
were required from academic and administrative units.
Regina, 2015, 1)
The University’s cuts also resulted from receiving a
smaller than anticipated funding increase from the provincial
government. The Library calculated that an increase in acquisitions
expenditures due to a projected inflation rate of 3% and an estimated CAD/USD
exchange rate of 1.25 CAD would result in a shortfall of $475,767 CAD
(Murphy and Nelke, September 30, 2015)
Tables 1 and
2 illustrate recent Library acquisitions budget changes.
Source: Murphy and Nelke, 2016.
continued on page 42
Post-Secondary Acquisitions Budget Challenges ...
from page 41
Source: Murphy and Nelke, 2016.
Immediate Steps Taken to Address the Budget Shortfall
The Library’s first action in tackling the $475,767 CAD shortfall was
reducing the monograph budget and other one-time purchases by
approximately 50% or $150,000 CAD.
(Murphy and Nelke, 2015 and 2016)
A signed multi-year monograph approval plan with a preferred vendor
was not affected by this decision. Professional staff were instructed to
only submit recommended materials to acquisitions that were requested
by instructors who had an immediate need (e.g., supplementary course
readings, research for a course, etc.). The strategy was successful and in
late winter 2016 professional staff were permitted to resume submitting
hardcopy or online requests priced under $200 CAD. The University
Library’s Collections and Assessment Team (CAT) would need to be
consulted for items priced more than that amount. The University
redirected $96,000 in savings from the Library by not renewing the
institutional license to Access Copyright. Access Copyright is a Canadian
non-profit organization that licenses reproduction of Canadian works.
Many post-secondary institutions have been reviewing their license to
the organization. These two actions resulted in a reduced acquisitions
shortfall to $336,446 CAD. (Murphy and Nelke, 2015 and 2016)
Developing a Strategy to Review Subscription Renewals
Since the offering of the first big deal package in 1996
, staff and students at the University of Regina and many
other Canadian universities have enjoyed unprecedented increases in
access to research content online. Patrons became accustomed to having
immediate access to a growing number of owned and licensed full-text
material. However, repercussions of signing large big deal packages
encumbered a tremendous amount of money coincided with a decline
in hard copy material checkouts and document delivery requests. In fall
2015 CAT was tasked to devise a cost reduction strategy to review all
upcoming individual and consortial renewals and develop cancelation
criteria to help eliminate the budget shortfall. One challenge was that
many packages were due for renewal at the end of the 2015 calendar
year. Time sensitive decisions were needed so CAT, comprised of
professional staff and chaired by the Head of Technical Services and
Collections, scrutinized COUNTER and non-COUNTER usage statistics
from ejournal and eBook resources.
Criteria for Evaluating E-resources
The consensus of CAT was to scrutinize high cost/low use resources
multidisciplinary big deal packages that did not impact one discipline.
Three formats of e-resources that were investigated were full-text
databases with journal articles, indexed databases, and full-text eBook
databases. Suggested evaluation criteria for those resources were
accreditation, comments from faculty, cost of acquiring material via other
means (e.g., cost per view and document delivery), impact factor, overlap
in content/comparable resources, and usage statistics.
CAT created a simple cost per use formula for full-text downloads,
page views, and searches. Available statistics for the previous calendar
year were divided by the cost of the resource for the same year. A cost
per use threshold of $25.00 (CAD) was used to make non renewal license
decisions. The figure was based upon the average cost it takes for a
library staff member to obtain a requested item via document delivery.
CRKN has been using a journal value metrics methodology (JVM),
based upon the California Digital Library, to provide its member
libraries usage journal title statistics that measure their quality and value.
Cambridge University Press and Springer e-journal packages were
analyzed using JVM and figures assisted the University Library in
making renewal decisions. By December 2015 53 individual ejournal titles
and nine e-resource packages were identified by CAT for non renewal:
• Access UN
• Books 24x7
• Books In Print
• Cambridge University Press
• Canadian Literary Centre
• New York Times
• Wall Street Journal
The primary cancellation rationale was high cost per use. Resources
like Access UN, Books In Print, and Canadian Literary Centre also
had content overlap in other licensed resources or was freely available
online. Some titles in Books 24x7 that had moderate to high use were
purchased individually. Sources like Amazon and preferred library
vendor databases were deemed reliable substitutes for Books In Print.
Compustat and CRSP were very esoteric sources and used by only
a few instructors from the Faculty of Business Administration. The
faculty decided to fund the resources but shifting costs from the Library
to another unit was not ideal. The cancellation of e-journal packages
amounted to 2,137 titles.
Source: Murphy and Nelke, 2016.
The Library began calculating a shortfall soon after the University
announced the 2015-16 budget in summer 2015. The Acting University
Librarian and Head of Technical Services and Collections made an
acquisitions budget presentation to the Deans’ Council on September 30,
2015. Despite the sobering theme of the presentation, most in attendance
understood the financial situation. The Acting University Librarian also
sent an announcement to the Deans and Directors listserv and had the
presentation posted on the Library’s home page. CAT began drafting
an acquisitions budget site to provide details the reductions process
and sources that were not renewed. This new site is regularly updated.
(University of Regina Library, 2016)
The Acting University Librarian and Head of Technical Services and
Collections subsequently conducted two detailed open forum
presentations in the Library on February 25 and 29, 2016. Announcements to
attend either session were sent to University listservs and the forums
were also promoted by liaison librarians in department and faculty
meetings. Most professional staff came and despite low numbers of
faculty attending both presentations, feedback from professors was
constructive. Critical comments were mainly directed at using a cost
per use formula. It was deemed to be an inaccurate form of making
decisions and also difficult to qualify the impact of usage statistics on
research. Faculty concerns were noted and it was emphasized that cost
per use was the best criteria to make time sensitive decisions and meet
legal obligations of whether or not to renew e-resources.
It was also explained that the Library’s membership in three national
and regional consortia (Council of Prairie and Pacific University
continued on page 43
Post-Secondary Acquisitions ...
from page 42
Libaries, CRKN, and Saskatchewan’s
Multitype Database Licensing Program) provided
large discounts and constituted 60% of all
e-resources in the Library’s collections.
Cancellations of big deal packages did not mean
the complete loss of all content. Favorable post
cancellation terms allowed full-text content to
be accessible up to 2015. Tables of content and
abstracts would be available in most current
journal issues. There were also favorable
Interlibrary Loan license terms. Some publishers
had a grace period of up to 60 days from the
cancellation date of subscribed packages for
the University Library to transition to purchase
individual title subscriptions.
In early 2016 lists of cancelled titles with
their cost per use were emailed to faculty. The
University President was also emailed a list of
all cancelled ejournal titles that had no usage.
Instructors could request that titles be
reinstated with no justification. A majority of faculty
requests to the Head of Technical Services and
Collections came from the departments of
Geography, History, and the Faculty of Education.
The Head of Technical Services and
Collections discussed all requests with CAT. As of
April 2016, 19 of 47 reinstated journal requests
totaling $40,046 CAD had been accepted and
were subsequently forwarded to the Acting
University Librarian for final approval. Then
the Head of Technical Services and Collections
notified faculty members and appropriate
liaison librarians with the final decisions.
Canadian consortia are exploring solutions
to the foreign exchange and acquisitions budget
crisis. Invoicing projects may show promise
with Canadian institutions. In September 2015
CRKN offered a foreign exchange
management program for two big deal packages. For
a modest administrative fee members could
lock in their foreign exchange needs for a better
USD rate. More than 25% of members opted in
and net savings were substantial. Some
institutions are investigating establishing individual
foreign exchange plans and the University of
Regina may do the same. Another option is
exploring the efficacy of piloting an on demand
journal article service from sources such as the
Copyright Clearance Office’s Get it Now,
Deep Dyve or from publishers. At present
University Library e-journal packages constitute
approximately 45% of electronic resources.
Out of that percentage about 73% are from four
big deal packages that are worth approximately
one million CAD. The University of Regina
Library will scrutinize all forthcoming
e-resource renewals because budget shortfalls are
anticipated annually. Perhaps there needs to be
a paradigm shift about what is more important
to researchers. Is it access to journals or articles
and is their ownership or discoverability more
(Murphy and Nelke, 2016)
are difficult questions to answer and economics
plays a large role. The University community
is more keenly aware of the Library’s new
fiscal situation and higher levels of faculty
participation is expected.
against the grain
s obrn and ilved: Born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
r y earl life: Happy memories of summer vacations in Spokane, WA and Cannon Beach,
i OR. They were exotic places compared to life on the Canadian Prairies. Earned MLIS
h degree from the University of Alberta.
a f :yamil Wonderful wife Darcy, whom I met in library school, and a beautiful 6 year old
h daughter, Sophia.
c ni ym eraps :emit Practicing Iyengar style yoga and lifting weights at home, tent
campi ing in the summer with my family, and watching Friday night movies at home with them.
ovriteaf obks: I seldom finish books so I can’t mention many. But These are the
Voyages TOS Seasons 1-3 by Mark Cushman is the most encyclopedic work about the
. original Star Trek series (1966-69) that I’ve ever read.
ept pevs: Windy days.
:hpilosy Living in faraway places is wonderfully enriching.
omst meorabl raec :achievmnt I’m
cheating and have two — being granted tenure at the
University of Regina and being elected President of
the Saskatchewan Library Association.
how/wher do i se the industry in five
eyars: I think all libraries will continue tailoring their
resources and services to meet their local needs while
resource sharing within all library sectors and forming
partnerships in untapped marketplaces will continue to
CRKN. University Library Acquisitions
Budgets: Foreign Exchange Risk and CRKN.
University of Regina Library. Acquisi
tions Budget. 2016. http://www.uregina.ca/
---. Library Acquisitions Fund
Allocations including Carry forward and Transfer
Totals 2008-2015 Fiscal Years. August 25,
Murphy , Colleen and Barbara Nelke . “University of Regina Library Acquisitions Budget Challenges Open Forum” (presentation, Regina , SK , February 26 and February 29 , 2016 ). http://www.uregina.ca/library/ services/collections/acquisitions-budget/acquisitions-budget.html.
Murphy , Colleen and Barbara Nelke . “Library Acquisitions: Exchange Rate Challenges” (presentation, Regina , SK , September 30 , 2015 ), http://www.uregina.ca/library/ services/collections/acquisitions-budget/ deans-council-collections-presentation .pdf.
Patterson , Lynne. “ Adjusting to the Fall in Commodity Prices: One Step at a Time.” Bank of Canada presentation at the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce , Edmonton, AB, March 30 , 2016 , http://www.bankofcanada. ca/ 2016 /03/adjusting-fall -commodity-prices.
University of Regina. Annual Report 2014 /15. 2014 . http://www.uregina.ca/fs/ ---. Campus Facts 2015 /16. Last modified September 2015 . http://www.uregina.ca/ orp/assets/statistics/fact-brochures/fact-brochure-2015-16.pdf.