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including The Conductor, a special section of the Spectrum printed 4 times a year

Libraries Cancel Nearly 1,500 Serials

By Paul Metz, head of collection development

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 01 - August 24, 1995

The University Libraries have recently identified 1,471 serials with a cumulative annual cost of $451,000 to be cancelled and have begun the process of notifying publishers and vendors. Journal cancellations will typically be effective at the end of 1995, while cancellations for monographic series and other standing orders will be effective immediately.

The necessity to cancel arose from both long- and short-term considerations. Journal inflation has averaged more than 10 percent in recent years, with much higher figures for scientific and European titles. Currently the libraries have more than 500 serial titles costing more than $1,000 each.

Like most American research libraries, the University Libraries have considered periodic cancellations an essential strategy to offset such high inflation and to provide the flexibility needed to move into an emerging information age in a time of relatively fixed resources. The university's current budget situation both foreshortened the libraries' time table for serials cancellations and increased the amount of money which had to be saved.

Because the lead time for the current project was limited, the libraries worked intensively in the late spring to prepare lists of titles for possible elimination and to encourage dialogue with the academic departments. Those departments which choose to do so helped prepare lists of possible cancellations. Copies of titles under consideration were distributed to all departmental offices, made available at major public services points in the libraries, and posted on the libraries' home page. All comments from users were collected, collated, and passed on for consideration by the relevant bibliographers.

The final cancellations were based on faculty and other user comments as well as on cost, relevance of each title to academic programs, measured use, citation data, availability through other means, and a variety of other criteria. Cancelled titles include journals and other serials in all disciplines. Major resources not affected by the cancellation project include the libraries' membership in the Center for Research Libraries, key electronic databases available through networked access, and the approval plan for recent books from university and selected trade publishers.

As a result of the cost relief achieved via cancellations, the outlook for the current fiscal year is fairly good. Funds for book buying should be adequate. While recent years have been humbling for anyone attempting to make predictions about anything including the library materials budget, the Council of Deans has supported the goal of providing continued and enhanced support for the information resources through which the libraries support teaching, learning, and research at Tech.

Lists of the titles cancelled are available at the Reserve Desk and reference desks in Newman Library and at each branch location, and are available on the libraries' home page (http://vatech.lib.vt.edu/).