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Against the Grain


Canceling an individual serial subscription when the journal is available in a third-party aggregated full-text database (AFTD) has been an option for academic libraries since these databases came into wide use in the late 1990s, yet little discussion of this option has taken place in the literature. Third-party aggregated full-text databases refer to products sold by companies that do not themselves publish journals but only distribute journal content - for example, various well known products sold by EBSCO and ProQuest and some open access databases such as Project Muse. This article looks at several case studies that discuss this option at some length and describes Santa Clara University Library's (SCU) experience employing it. Two of the studies conclude that canceling individual journal subscriptions based on their availability in an AFTD is an acceptable, even desirable, option while two others conclude it far too risky. Considering the many variables involved, this article argues that there is insufficient evidence to make a definitive judgement about whether this option is appropriate for all academic libraries or for all subject areas. It also suggests that fiscal responsibility demands that academic librarians evaluate this option within the context of their institutional and disciplinary circumstances rather than rely on studies and experiences from other libraries that may have little relevance to their specific situation.


Copyright © 2017 Against the Grain. Reprinted with permission.



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