The Cancellation Conundrum: Meeting Recap

By , November 13, 2009 2:33 pm

How much can you cut from your collection and still call yourself a library? books-trashThis was one of many interesting questions raised at our October LLOPS meeting where Kara Philips moderated speakers Rita Dermody and Karen Helde on best cancellation practices in their organizations.


The Public Law Library Perspective:

With budget cuts a perennial issue, Rita Dermody talked about KCLL’s evolving cancellation procedures. Rita pointed out that while the library budget has only increased about 20% in the last 8 years, publisher prices have increased about 80% over that time span, making the cancellation process even more challenging. To find the sweet spot between cutting costs and continuing to viably serve your patrons, Rita provided several helpful review tips, including:

  • Examine the scope of your collection and practice to ensure you continue to meet constituents’ needs
  • Eliminate large groupings of expensive services that are duplicated online and within your collection
  • Use circulation records to evaluate cost per use

The Law Firm Library Perspective:

Private law librarians must deal with budget constraints as well, but typically, the types of policies that can be implemented in public and academic law libraries fly out the window when faced with a powerful partner demanding an expensive niche service. Karen Helde described her philosophical evolution from idealistic to responsive collection development and detailed some of her best practices for reducing library expenses:

  • Look for efficiencies across offices: eliminate duplication when possible and encourage more resource sharing between offices
  • Question every renewal and keep notes on why you decided to keep / toss
  • M-HShuffle funds into online research tools that might be recoverable

Needless to say, the ensuing group discussion was lively. As we move towards cancelling print services in lieu of electronic content to offer more content to more patrons, we’re also faced with the enduring question: what will our libraries look like in 20 years? Perhaps we’ll be loading up the library collection onto a Kindle and handing it over.

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