Communicating Collections Cancellations to Campus: Qualitative Evidence to Inform Practice
Dawson, Diane (DeDe)
Aim In recent years, academic libraries across Canada have experienced severe budgetary challenges due to de-funding, currency instability, and the unsustainable rising costs of e-resources subscriptions. All of this is taking place in a volatile scholarly publishing environment. In these uncertain times, many libraries are being forced to make major collections cancellations decisions, and the focus is increasingly on the “big deal” journal packages. At some institutions, these cancellations attract considerable media coverage and negative backlash from faculty against the library, but at other institutions libraries receive support from their campuses. How can libraries effectively communicate cancellations so that their campus communities understand and support these decisions? The aim of this study was to collect qualitative evidence to answer this question. Methods We conducted semi-structured interviews with 17 librarians from large research libraries across Canada. Each of the participants had some experience with major collections cancellations decisions and the communications of these decisions to campus stakeholders at their institutions. The interviews allowed participants to reflect on what worked well and what didn’t in their communications strategies. We analyzed the transcripts using qualitative coding methods to reveal recurring themes, lessons learned, and advice for others facing similar situations. Results Recurrent themes from the data include practical strategies, but also higher level thoughts on topics such as stewardship, building trust, and the importance of tying collections decisions to broader issues in scholarly communication. Conclusion Cancellations communications are becoming commonplace for academic libraries in these times of uncertainty. Typically, these communications are reactive in response to circumstances driven by external forces. We hope that the evidence collected in this study supports libraries in the preemptive development of effective and strategic communication practices that results in support and understanding from their campus communities. Furthermore, we anticipate that the results of this project will encourage libraries to raise the awareness of faculty and administrators about the challenges of the current publishing ecosystem and their role in it – therefore advocating for a transition to a more sustainable scholarly communication system.
Communications, Collections Cancellations, Evidence-based Decision Making, Scholarly Communication
10th International Evidence Based Library and Information Practice Conference