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What’s the Big Deal, Anyway?: A Community Conversation about Access to Journals and Other Scholarly Knowledge

Guide to accompany luncheon talks hosted by the Middlebury Library, March-June 2020

Why Does This Matter?

Big Deal journal packages have both benefits and drawbacks for libraries, but the main reason they matter is because Middlebury, like many libraries, spends upwards of 70% of its collections budget on journals, and much of that is locked into big deal packages from a variety of publishers.

OK, so what?  Well, 70% is a large figure.  The way these packages work is that, while we can make individual title changes within each package, our commitments require us to keep the overall "spend" with each publisher at roughly the same amount each year.  This fact, combined with an inflationary growth rate for these packages usually in the area of 5-6% (despite overall cost-of-living increases in the neighborhood of 1-2%) makes it increasingly difficult for the library to support new models of scholarship such as open access, make overdue system infrastructure upgrades, and respond affirmatively to requests for other types of resources (such as databases and monographs) that remain critical for many disciplines of study.

Middlebury's Big Deal Packages

The three largest packages Middlebury subscribes to in terms of cost are:

  • Elsevier (ScienceDirect) (2,311 titles)
  • Springer (2,201 titles)
  • Sage (1,207 titles)

Our major remaining packages are:

  • American Chemical Society (84 titles)
  • Cambridge University Press (405 titles)
  • Institute of Physics (137 titles)
  • Oxford University Press (350 titles)
  • University of Chicago Press (147 titles)
  • University of California Press (65 titles)

Total cost of these 9 packages: $965,556