Main menu

Secondary menu

The Implications of Cancelling a Library Subscription Database

The implications of cancelling a library subscription database

Adding an eResource is easy. The effect of cancelling the eresource subscription is not.

My advice to clients is to spend a great deal of time and thought into the purchase of a new database because it will have a ripple effect in course development. Curriculum developers, Instructional Designers or Subject Matter Experts SME at your institution will seek to include content from that database into the courses. At least, I hope so. So when the librarian must cancel a title it could take a full year to extricate the information from the course, either through the normal process of programmatic course reviews or at the crisis moment when the students comes to the librarian asking for that particular eResource. And it is now gone. And until the course is amended, the librarians will have to come up with a work-around, or the faculty will need to find another appropriate course assignment activity. The online student is greatly disadvantaged and this can cause quite a bit of frustration (see my blog on Retention and Librarians).

This occurred recently with a client. So let me use that as an example. The institution’s online library is a member of a consortium. Our library consortium Board made the decision to not renew a particular title. That decision was communicated to the consortium members, that, driven by higher costs, this eResource would not be renewed. And a publisher’s subscription which the consortium already had was being upgraded to include a wider range of titles to compensate. This prompted me to contact the cancelled publisher title to find out what the price was for our online library to subscribe. It was too expensive for us alone. 2 months later students started contacting the reference librarian about a particular ebook, which was coincidentally in that cancelled subscription. A work around was devised, although it was not satisfactory. Then we had to find the course name, locate the Dean, and contact the course faculty about the problem. Then we informed the curriculum developers that this particular course needed review.

So the good news was that online library content was in the course assignment and students were required to go into the virtual library to do their work. The bad news occurs when course assignments are very specific about what or which specific title to use or research, the title better be there. Librarians must cancel titles. For funding issues, teaching-out of programs, courses being withdrawn, courses being revised, changing scope by the publisher, are all reasons why we cancel titles. Thus certain titles may no longer be needed to support the program or course they were bought for. Just be aware of the ripple of that cancellation.

For help in reviewing your subscriptions and ensuring they are still adequate for your programs and levels, contact the Virtual Librarian Service (