Our Collections

Our Collections

With nearly 2 million volumes in our collection, we offer a wide variety of resources including books, journals, maps, CDs & DVDs, and more. We have built well-respected collections in many areas: Folklore, Marine biology, Irish studies, Polar studies, Maritime history, Marine technology, and many more. We are particularly proud of our extensive collection of resources on Newfoundland and Labrador.

To contact a collections librarian by subject, please visit:

Current Collections Review Project

Sage Journal Package

Memorial University Libraries is seeking feedback from faculty, instructors and students as it reviews the Sage journal package.  As with Taylor & Francis, and the Cambridge, Oxford, Wiley and Springer publisher packages, the Libraries will analyze feedback from academic units along with data such as use statistics and resource overlap in determining which journals to retain from this package as of January 2018.  The Libraries aim to maintain subscriptions to as many journals as possible, and provide alternate access to other journals in the package.  

Journal users are asked to consult the Sage Journal Package and submit a list of journals and the rationale, where possible, for retaining those journals by Sept. 15, 2017.  Please send responses to collections@mun.ca.

Collections librarians will also be contacting academic units and their faculty representatives to offer optional meetings for further discussions on the issue.  

Why Universities are Cancelling Journal Packages

Many North American universities have had to cancel their subscriptions to “big deal” journals packages in the past few years, with an escalation of cancellations beginning in about 2015. This recent piece in “Scholarly Kitchen” (https://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2017/05/01/wolf-finally-arrives-big-deal-cancelations-north-american-libraries/) provides a good overview.

In the early 2000s, large journal publishers introduced the "big deal” or “package” sales model, whereby libraries subscribe to the entire suite of a publisher’s journals for a significant discount. Individual subscriptions to all of the journals in a package can be as much as ten times more than the cost of the package.

While this model had the advantage of giving researchers access to a vast array of research output, the cost of these packages has increased by 5 – 15% annually, while library budgets have typically not increased. It was no longer possible for university libraries to manage their budgets by making small adjustments to journal subscriptions because the package sales model did not offer any flexibility. For example, libraries could not purchase a percentage of the journals for a percentage of the cost. This “all or nothing” approach is similar to the way cable television channels are sold to consumers.

Over the years this has resulted in an ever-increasing proportion of library budgets going to pay for the “big deals”, with consequently less available for purchasing books, or subscriptions to journals from smaller niche publishers and academic societies.

Canadian libraries are invoiced in US Dollars for most large journal packages. For a few years, a strong Canadian dollar shielded academic institutions in Canada from the full effects of the annual publisher price increases. The recent downturn of the Canadian Dollar combined with publisher price increases has led to a breaking point, and most academic institutions in Canada are now faced with needing to cancel one or more of their big deals.

Memorial’s Strategic Approach

Librarians at Memorial employed an evidence-based approach to cancelling journal packages in order to minimize the impact on teaching and research. In addition to extensive consultation with faculty and students, use, cost and, alternate access data were analyzed to optimize our subscriptions.    

Three levels of access are provided for journals that were previously available as part of the cancelled packages:

1. Full-text, current access directly from the publisher:

This is the most expensive level of access. This was chosen for the most needed journals, especially those with high current year use or those for which no alternate access was available.

2. Full-text, embargoed access from intermediate suppliers (“aggregators”):

This can be a more cost-effective way to provide access to a greater breadth of journal, but with restrictions on access to the most current articles. Many journals in publisher packages are available in “aggregator” products with an embargo period – articles become available within a certain number of months after publication (most often 12 months, but sometimes 6 or 18 months). Libraries have no control over which journals are available in aggregator products, as this is determined by contracts between the publishers and the intermediate suppliers. We did however adjust our suite of aggregator subscriptions to maximize coverage for the cancelled journal packages.

3. Indexing and Abstracting:

The library subscribes to indexing tools that enable the discovery of relevant articles in journals not available via either of the two methods above. Combined with our document delivery service (http://www.library.mun.ca/news/DocumentDeliveryisfasteasyandonline.html), faculty and students can request access to any published journal article with a turn-around time of 24-48 hours.

Past Collections Review Projects at Memorial

2016 – Taylor & Francis Journal Package

2015 – Cambridge, Oxford, Wiley and Springer Journal Packages

Further Reading:

Cancellations at Other Universities:

Impact factors - why we chose not to consider them in our analysis:

Open Access – a potential longer term solution: