The OU Libraries reviewed Oxford University Press journal commitments in 2014. The review was designed to realign journal commitments based on community needs, usage data and content availability. Collectively these publisher-based commitments are known as "Big Deals" and they have driven much of OU and the academic library community's purchasing decisions for over a decade.
What are Big Deals?
The Big Deal describes multiyear contracts in which a library purchases access to all or nearly all of a publisher's journals at a price based on the library's current subscription costs, and agrees to annual price increases fixed at the outset of the contract.
Why have libraries participated in Big Deals?
At the time they were developed, Big Deals were useful to libraries, allowing them to offer more content for a set cost, as opposed to a more limited content offering and no control over annual cost increases.
Why are libraries questioning Big Deals now?
As libraries have continued to face flat budgets and funding cuts, the Big Deal has become less sustainable. When forced to cut materials budgets, journals in Big Deals have been untouchable due to their multi-year agreements, thus causing libraries to make cuts among those journals not covered by Big Deals or from other resources, such as books. Leaving Big Deals allows libraries to regain control of substantial portions of their materials budgets and to strategically reallocate limited funding.
PowerPoint slides from a public presentation on the Oxford journals review, held April 10, 2014, are available below.