January 17, 2022

New Conference Paper: "Unbundling the Big Deal with Patron Driven Acquisition of e-Journals"

This paper will be presented at the World Library and Information Congress: 77th IFLA General Conference and Assembly on August 17, 2011.

Title: “Unbundling the Big Deal with Patron Driven Acquisition of e-Journals” (9 Pages; PDF)

Authors: Maureen Weicher and Tian Xiao Zhang (St. John’s University Library, Queens, NY, USA)


Many academic libraries subscribed to publishers’ Big Deal or bundled ejournal packages with expectations of significantly expanded access for relatively small increases over historical expenditure levels. In exchange, libraries often agreed to multi-year commitments with built-in annual price increases. For bundled deals renewed on a year-to-year basis, libraries may be faced with the loss of the majority of the collection if spending thresholds are not met. As budgets stagnate or shrink in difficult financial times, there are legitimate concerns whether these expensive deals are driving libraries to forgo needed resources in exchange for a list of titles with marginal value to patrons.

In this paper, we address our library’s experiences beginning to unbundle one publisher’s Big Deal, using a mix of individual ejournal subscriptions and patron driven acquisition (PDA) of individual articles. We will discuss our initial experiences implementing access tokens for “just in time” purchase of individual articles from Wiley-Blackwell. Will it be possible to provide a similar or higher level of access while spending less? How will usage patterns
change when users can access titles (or certain years within these titles) that previously were off limits? We will provide preliminary findings on our attempt to rein in costs by unbundling the Big Deal and better serve our academic community’s need for access to a wide range of timely and relevant research.

Update: See Also: “Libraries Abandon Expensive ‘Big Deal’ Subscription Packages to Multiple Journals” (by Jennifer Howard, The Chronicle of Higher Education)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.