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University Library System Unbundling 'Big Deals'

Unbundling Wiley

Dear Stakeholder

For the last several years the Wayne State University Library System (WSULS) has been working to bring our materials budget in-line with our budget realities while continuing to provide the resources needed to meet the research and curriculum needs of our faculty and students.  One of the obstacles in this endeavor has been our commitment to what is often referred to as “Big Deal” journal subscription packages.  After a nearly year-long negotiations with the Wiley Publishing Company the library system has made the difficult decision not to renew our big deal contract.  For roughly the last 20 years the big deal model has provided the university with electronic access to our traditional print subscriptions along with a significant number of additional titles.  Overtime, budget challenges, coupled with the unsustainable annual inflationary increases, have outpaced our ability to maintain this multi-year commitment.  This change will take effect on February 1, 2022.

Our library Collection Development and Assessment Teams have spent the last several years doing a tremendous amount of analysis of our big deal packages.  Using a data-driven approach we have identified journals that have shown consistent use by our community over the lifetime of our big deal agreements.  For some, this decision will mean a loss of immediate access to the newest content in a cancelled title while other high use titles will continue to see the most recent articles available for immediate access.  A complete list of the Wiley titles affected will be provided.  This usage data, coupled with the knowledge of areas of research being done on campus, has allowed us to identify the most highly needed journals to retain.

This change will allow the library to continue to invest in additional resources that better align with the changing research and curriculum needs of our community.  Additionally, we continue to provide excellent Interlibrary Loan services and are confident that we can supply the content needed to meet the research needs of the campus. In most cases, journal articles can be supplied within hours of the request be submitted. There is never a cost to the researcher or the department for obtaining materials through ILL.

It is important to know that these challenges do not affect the WSU alone. Many national and international universities have been pushing back on the high costs of big deals. SPARC keeps an ongoing watch list of universities that have cancelled journal packages recognizing that these packages are becoming unsustainable.


Q.  What are “Big Deals”?

AIn the late 1990s, large academic publishers started offering multi-year bundled subscription     

      packages to their scholarly journals, commonly referred to as “big deals.” In 2019, this

      subscription model was still a big part of the publishing landscape.

Q.  What are the pros and cons of big deal journals packages?

A.  Big deal packages usually offer a deeply discounted price to a large bundle of journals as

      compared to title-by-title subscriptions to the same number of journals. However, over the

      years their costs have grown at rates consistently outpacing library budgets.  As a result more

      and more of library collection development funds are being tied up in these  journal

      packages, preventing libraries from curating collections that are responsive to the needs of

      their communities.

Q.   When will our current access to Wiley database titles change?

A.   The change will take effect on February 1, 2022

Q.   How many Wiley titles do we currently have access to and how many will be have after     

       this transition?

  1. We currently have access to about 1800 titles. After the transition we will have access to about 378. 

Q.   I teach graduate level courses and I rely heavily on articles rather than a textbook. Will I

       still be able to assign articles from Wiley journals to my students?

A.   Yes. Some articles may still be immediately available through the library catalog but in

 other situations, a Interlibrary Loan request for a particular article may be necessary.  In  

 most cases, ILL can deliver the article within 24 hours.

If you have any questions or concerns you may contact your department liaison or Mike Hawthorne, director of Collections & Strategy Services, at