May 20, 2022

University of Iowa Libraries “Seeks Campus Input on Subscription Cancellations”

From a letter by John Culshaw, Jack B. King University Librarian and Sue Curry, Interim Executive Vice President and Provost published today on the University of Iowa website:


To our campus community:

Beginning next fiscal year (July 2019), University of Iowa Libraries must trim the amount it spends on annual subscriptions to journals, databases, and e-books. This reduction is necessary because subscription price increases far outpace budget increases. Subscriptions managed by the UI Law Library are not included in this reduction strategy.

We are writing today to ask for assistance in reviewing current subscriptions, with a goal of identifying those that can be eliminated due to low use, high cost per use, and lack of strategic importance to research areas.

In recent years and continuing today, scholarly publishing companies have levied annual price increases of 5 percent to 7 percent while for the last three fiscal years, the UI’s annual budget for these materials has remained mostly unchanged. Such an environment diminishes our purchasing power, and these cost increases are simply not sustainable.

To address this, the Libraries already has reduced spending on printed books, eliminated duplication, and canceled underutilized subscriptions. In addition, we purchase many materials jointly with our peers in the Big Ten Academic Alliance to ensure we are receiving the best possible pricing. We also closely align ourselves national efforts to encourage publication in and support for open-access journals.

These cost-saving efforts have not been enough to offset subscription cost increases set by scholarly publishing companies. We must cut about $600,000 in annual subscriptions if we are to maintain access to the information resources that are vital to research and scholarship. Our strategy will be to reduce spending proportionately by discipline as follows:

  • 10 percent: basic sciences, engineering, and health sciences
  • 7 percent: social sciences
  • 5 percent: humanities (including area studies and performing arts)

Read the Complete Letter Including Details on the Review Process

See Also: Journal & Database Cancellation Review Process

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( 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, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.