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Against The Grain Journal

Charleston Library Conference 

Apr 12, 2021

Audio from the 2020 Charleston Library Conference, presented by Michael Levine-Clark, Dean of Libraries, University of Denver; Jason Price, Research and Scholarly Communication Director, SCELC, and John McDonald, Director, Product Management, Analytics, EBSCO Information Services

Faced with unexpected double-digit budget cuts and ever-increasing costs for journal packages, many academic libraries are finding it necessary and/or expedient to unbundle their big deals. Determining the relative value of these packages is not easy, since it requires an understanding of how reduced access will impact users now and into the future. Enter Unsub, a tool designed by researchers to model future library costs based on current patterns of availability and use within each package. Unsub allows librarians to make informed decisions about which titles to keep and which to cancel by identifying alternative access via backfile ownership, open access, and cost-effective use of interlibrary loan (ILL). However, without a sufficient understanding of its inner workings, librarians run the risk of making poor cancellation decisions.

In this presentation, we'll hear the most important Unsub definitions, assumptions, and parameter defaults, highlighting scenarios designed to test their effects on cancellation recommendations across multiple institutions with varied research profiles. More specifically, we'll delve into Unsub's definitions of OA coverage and journal usage/value; (2) assumptions around OA availability and delayed access; and (3) default parameters for backfile coverage, current usage to ILL conversion, and aggregator access. Then we'll end with Charleston-style provocative prognostication and a call to action. The results we'll share will provide critical insight into the foundations of Unsub, enabling attendees to harness this powerful tool to make better decisions for the researchers they serve.

Video of the presentation available at: