ERL13 notes: Breaking up is hard to do

Dani Roach and Carolyn DeLuca from the University of Saint Thomas gave a great talk about all the work that goes in to “breaking up” with an e-resource. It’s not just as simple as removing a link from your website, and yet this topic gets very little coverage. Even in e-resource lifecycle diagrams, it’s always “renew” rather than “remove” as the final step, even though both are possibilities.

It takes a lot of work to acquire e-resources, and it takes a lot of work to get out of it too.

Why might one break up with a resource? Duplicated content, low use and high cost are the major culprits, but it could also be changes in curriculum.

Who makes the decision to break up? It might be internal staff (subject librarians, ER librarians) or it might be external players such as the publisher or vendor. In these cases it’s out of our control: company mergers, publisher changes, platform migrations…

There are three types of break ups: cancelled, ceased, or migrated. In all cases, we need to look at our holdings, platform, product and provider. We don’t always get advanced notice.

When we break up with a resource, there are many places where we need to make changes: catalog, ERM, files, subject guides, A-Z list, proxy config file, archives/Portico… but there are also places to communicate the break up: blog, social media, newsletter, etc.).

There are some tracking tools out there (the UKSG cancellation form is a great one), but you may want to come up with a local tool. Having some sort of checklist will make it easier.

Work with vendors: plan cancellations well in advance of the renewal deadline (and check what that deadline is!), confirm what post-cancellations rights you have and do your research if you’re switching products. You’ve developed personal relationships here, be nice when you break up.

Think about timing: you might not want to yank a resource in the middle of term, or you might want to put a resource “on probation” for a year to evaluate and plan next steps.

What’s left? Make sure the vendor removes traces from their system — if you get a yearly volume, do you want the previous years available to your users as well as the current? If you change platforms, have you reworked any tutorials?

Langara had a bunch of e-resource break ups over the last year, and it really is a lot of work. This session was helpful in terms of thinking about workflow and checklists, as well as confirming that we mostly did it okay and it’s hard to remember everything!

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