The Canadian dollar versus the collection: How Canadian university libraries are coping

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Scott, David R.
Eva, Nicole
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The Partnership. Provincial and Territorial Library Association of Canada
Through 2015 and into 2016, Canadian academic libraries’ collections budgets were severely strained due to the steady decline of the CAD/USD exchange rate. As most subscription fees for electronic resources (e-resources) are billed in US dollars, the falling value of the Canadian dollar significantly reduced libraries’ purchasing power. This study is based on a survey of the English-speaking member institutions of the Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN), a Canadian collections consortium, carried out to determine the impact of the poor exchange rate on collection development and how libraries are coping with new budgetary pressures. Librarians from 33 universities provided survey responses. Of these, 22 participated in telephone interviews to further discuss concerns and ideas regarding the current crisis. The study finds that all participant libraries have taken actions to address the budgetary shortfall, including cancelling serial and database subscriptions, negotiating lower costs with vendors, purchasing fewer monographs, and soliciting additional funding from their institutions. While the financial strain resulting from exchange rate fluctuations is indeed a significant problem for which solutions should be sought, several respondents stressed that it only exacerbates the ongoing inflation of e-resource subscriptions. This deeper and enduring issue, which is expected to outlast the present exchange rate crisis, is enabled by an inherently flawed scholarly publishing system. Thus, librarians engaged in discussions with their wider academic communities concerning collections budgets should not focus exclusively on the exchange rate but should leverage the opportunity to explore alternatives to the current scholarly communication model. If solutions exist, they will likely only be achieved through the support of faculty and university administrators, as well as cooperation among post-secondary institutions and library consortia.
Sherpa Romeo green journal; open access
Academic libraries , Collection development , Serials , Electronic resources , Exchange rates , Academic libraries -- Canada -- Finance , Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN)
Scott, D. R., & Eva. N. (2016). The Canadian dollar versus the collection: How Canadian university libraries are coping. Partnership: the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research, 11(2). doi: