By Beth Royall, chair, WVU Libraries Collections Advisory Committee
Dean of Libraries Karen Diaz and Beth Royall, chair of the Libraries’ Collections Advisory Committee, presented the Licensing Principles for Vendors document to the WVU Faculty Senate at the February 8, 2021 Senate meeting. Anyone who has been following the development of this document may note the title change. Dean Diaz explained that discussions with the Faculty Senate Executive Committee made it clear the previous title, “Vendor Policy,” was misleadingly stringent, and the new title better represents how we will use this document. The new Licensing Principles for Vendors have now been approved by the Dean of Libraries, the Library Faculty Assembly, and the WVU Faculty Senate.
Faculty are encouraged to share these principles with their vendor contacts and engage in candid dialogue about the serious need for—among other things—fair, transparent, and sustainable pricing models; compliance with usability and accessibility standards; and interlibrary loan privileges for e-books. Change isn’t easy, but when the WVU community speaks with one voice the impact is powerful.
The WVU Libraries Collections Advisory Committee strives to make data-informed decisions regarding journal subscriptions. Highlights of our recently completed review of FY20 interlibrary loan (ILL) costs may be of interest to our WVU faculty. Below is a chart showing the journals that incurred cumulative interlibrary loan costs of more than $200 between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020.
Sum of FY20 ILL Costs
Science of The Total Environment
International Journal of Sustainable Transportation
Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice
Construction and building materials
Business & Society
The Nonproliferation Review
Journal of Cleaner Production
Drug testing and analysis.
In addition to the ISSN and title of the journal, you see the total ILL expenses for FY20, the number of requests that incurred an ILL expense, and finally, what we would have paid for a year’s subscription to that journal. Since we unbundled our Science Direct, Springer, and Wiley packages, we try to do this ILL review annually, looking for any journals that are costing us more in ILL costs than the subscription price. As you can see, even at 40 ILL requests totaling $957.37, a subscription to the Science of the Total Environment journal would not be cost effective. The annual ILL expenditures for The Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice and Palaestra come closest to what annual subscriptions would run. What we don’t know, yet, is if the demand for these journals is short-term or on-going, but these are titles we will keep an eye on.
(e)Reserves Purchase Requests
Providing excellent course reserve service is a high priority for the WVU Libraries. If we don’t own an item a faculty member has requested for reserves, we quickly explore the purchase options. The Libraries’ Collections Advisory Committee has determined that any reserve item request costing $350 or more will trigger a consultation with the appropriate liaison librarian. The librarian will review the request and determine if there might be a suitable substitute already in our collection, or, even better, an open educational resource. The liaison may determine that there is no reasonable substitute, in which case factors such as the number of students in the course, the license terms, and the potential for on-going use will be considered, along with the purchase price, in making the final decision whether or not to invest in the resource.
In light of the recent murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd as well as the clear need to take sustained, wide-ranging action against racism at an institutional level, the WVU Libraries Collections Advisory Committee has added a curated Anti-Racism Readings collection on Overdrive that includes both ebooks and audiobooks.
The Collections Advisory Committee’s charge includes “ensuring that selections for specific subject areas are adequate.” In line with this charge and the Core Values of the American Library Association, we believe that the particular histories of anti-Black oppression and underrepresentation that have marked this country since its beginnings need immediate and sustained attention. As Dean Karen Diaz points out in her recent blog post, “Now is when we must ask WHAT and WHOSE cultural record we are creating, amplifying and preserving.” Libraries are not neutral. Collection development and the decisions we make about what resources to add are always political, even when they’re not explicitly framed as such.
Change needs to happen at every level of the university to be truly systemic, and what we can do is help make sure the WVU community has access to relevant information by adding these resources. Change doesn’t happen through reading alone, but self-education and engagement with anti-racist ideas are crucial parts of the process.
We hope you will read and consider these texts in their wholeness and individuality, not simply as educational tools to check off on a prescribed list, and we hope that they become a springboard to introspection, conversation, and action here at WVU and beyond.