Written By: Mary Dudman, Soutron Global Training Services Manager, MLS


Is there a Serials Crisis? What can I do to I make things more available for a price my budget can stand?


It seems today that the price of everything is growing exponentially. Libraries, information and knowledge resource centers have always felt the sharp edge of their budgets. With the significant price increases for serials, it has been difficult to maintain the necessary subscriptions for print and electronic journals.

Many librarians, information and knowledge managers ask themselves, “How can this price increase continue while our budgets seem to shrink? What can I do to be sure my collection contains essential materials and while ensuring I can afford the resources necessary for my users?”


Why do they cost so much?

Did you know that the rate of price increases for print serials has increased more than the typical inflation rate?

Most contemporary journals used for research and reference are targeted to specific research topics or subject matters. In order to maintain and publish these journals, publishers must keep staff and resources to collect, review, analyze, test, digitize, and print their journals.

Did you know that printing something on paper has increased in cost? The price of the paper depends on the quality, longevity, and usage which is important for a particular serial publication (or any publication)! Adding to this cost is the fact that there are only a few paper mills left which still manufacture the paper commonly used by publishers.


Helpful Tips for your Budget

In order address the rising costs knowledge professionals have been investigating various ways to make their serials budgets stretch further.


Here are some helpful tips that other libraries have employed:


  • Some libraries are borrowing more journals which are not consistently used in their particular library from other libraries (to the limit permitted by copyright laws).
  • Some libraries are consulting digital resource suppliers which offer individual articles for sale. This is particularly useful when the cost of subscribing to the full journal is prohibitive due to infrequent use. This can also avoid the copyright implications of photocopying articles from a journal.
  • Some libraries are analyzing the usage of their journals to review the value gained by subscribing to particular journals. If a journal isn’t consulted regularly or used, it may be time to consider cancellation. This goes hand-in-hand with the previous tip. It may prove to be a more economical use of funds for some libraries to buy an article here or there.
  • Some libraries convert from printed journal subscriptions to electronic subscriptions. Unfortunately, many have found that electronic journal subscription prices are increasing as much as, or more than print subscriptions. For example, many digital periodical subscribers are based in Europe and the constant fluctuation of exchange rates can cause frustration when budgeting.
  • Some libraries are joining into a consortia-type relationship with other libraries with similar materials and goals to share the cost of access. Sometimes this type of agreement can make licensing costs for electronic access less prohibitive, but the cooperating libraries need to work together in order for this approach to succeed.


Mitigating the Cost

An interesting article in Wikipedia under the topic “Serials Crisis” provides more insight into the trials and tribulations of libraries. Serials subscriptions and budgetary constraints are becoming more common for all types of libraries and resource centers.

Moving to a library or digital asset management system can also defray some of your costs. Making your materials available in the Cloud can help save time and money. Storing resources prepared and published by your organization is vital in today’s digital age. “Knowledge is power!” as they say and being able to access it is the key.

If you are curious to see how moving to the Cloud can be beneficial, Soutron Global can help! Soutron provides a way to access and organize printed, digitized and electronic materials of all sorts, whether they are internal or commercially available. Take a look at our Library and Digital Asset Management solutions. You can also see how we’ve helped other organizations by reading our client stories.