Print Journal Retention

As part of the flagship institution of the University of Texas System, the University of Texas Libraries supports diverse undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral academic programs with varying teaching and research needs. The UT Libraries acquires material in many formats and print remains an essential component of our collections. At the same time, we must balance the physical space needed for our print collections with the space requirements for other developing initiatives in support of the University community. The UT Libraries recognizes and acknowledges its role as stewards of our collections and is committed to acquiring, retaining, and curating unique content, regardless of format. Solutions to our space constraints include preference for electronic formats and reduction of duplication.

As more serials become available in electronic format, we are reducing the number of print subscriptions in order to enhance user access and save the costs of handling and storing print. The Libraries’ current practice, where both electronic and print formats of journals are available, is to prefer electronic formats for current subscriptions, provided there are acceptable licensing terms that ensure long-term access and preservation for the University. Conversion of print subscriptions to electronic versions is contingent upon satisfactory archiving and ongoing access to purchased content, including publisher commitment to technological migration.

In addition, our need for user space in most facilities has made retention of duplicate print serial backfiles unsustainable.  One strategy is to eliminate duplicate serial backfiles regardless of format. However, disposing of print serials is not practical in every case.  For ongoing access to acquired journal content, hardcopy will be retained in cases where electronic options are lacking or insufficient:

  • There is no electronic version available. 
  • Access to the electronic archive is not sufficiently stable for the long term.   (“Stable” is here defined as content that is 1) purchased outright; 2) purchased for perpetual access from a provider that may also charge annual platform or maintenance fees; or 3) backed up by perpetual access via a dark mirror site such as Portico or CLOCKSS.)
  • The electronic archive is not equivalent in coverage or content to the print, either because issues or pages are missing, or content is selective rather than complete.
  • The quality of tables, graphs, photos, illustrations, reproductions, musical notation, or legibility is unsatisfactory or yields unsatisfactory printing results.  
  • The nature of the serial’s physical use by patrons renders it unsuitable or less desirable for access on an electronic device (for example, non-textual content).

Subject specialists and collection managers may identify and recommend print serials for withdrawal that are duplicated elsewhere in our collection, regardless of format. These decisions will be made taking into account all known factors, including the uniqueness of the printed artifact, recent usage patterns and circulation statistics, and patron input when appropriate. All subject specialists will be expected to review these titles and, if necessary, to consult with users to gather feedback and address any concerns. 

The Collection Management Team will take into account the factors listed above before recommending any print serial as eligible for withdrawal as part of large-scale disposition projects.  Decision support tools such as “What to Withdraw” can be used to inform title deselection. The ultimate print journal retention decisions reside with the Collection Development Officer and/or the Executive Management Team.