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Principles & Rubric for Subscription Review

We share our Subscription Review Principles with the intention of being more transparent. However, true transparency is more than presenting data and outcomes. Our goal is to provide more context and clarity about past practices, current allocations and expenditures, and future trends. Moreover our principles should illuminate the implications and trade offs in the context of fiscal realities. As stewards of the Libraries collections and University funding, our hope is to move away from binary and zero-sum perspectives about allocations and expenditures. Instead, our intention is to engage in substantive and collaborative discussions that result in making the best possible decisions on acquiring, retaining, and cancelling subscriptions and given current resources and long-term implications on teaching and research at the University of Washington.

We establish these Principles to guide our process and decision making in this subscription review. These Principles serve as guideposts to help us navigate this process and as reinforcement of our values-driven decision making. In addition, we draw from several factors to establish the basis of an assessment criteria and process. With that in mind, we share our overarching rubric structure aligned with our principles to cultivate collaboration and maintain consistency and fairness in the review process.

Subscription Review

PrinciplesRubric Elements and Assessment

To be sustainable…


  • Current subscription price

  • Subscription inflation rate over time

To be equitable…

  • Review all subscriptions (individual journal subscriptions, big journal packages, and databases) in all subject disciplines.

  • Incorporate quantitative and qualitative factors when proposing subscriptions for cancellation.


  • Cost per use (e.g. cost divided by the number of article downloads)


Support underrepresented voices

  • Representation of historically marginalized groups

  • Uniqueness of subject matter

  • Addressing needs of smaller programs (e.g. fine arts, language, etc.)

  • Preserves and increases access to  culturally-relevant information resources

To be collaborative and transparent…

  • Listening and communicating openly and effectively with each other and our user communities.

  • Leverage expertise and knowledge from campus partnerships across the three campuses and between Libraries’ staff and UW faculty, students, and staff.


  • Subject librarians consult with faculty, students, and staff in academic departments and programs.

  • Subject librarians consult with librarian colleagues on all three campuses.

  • Subject librarians consider comments and feedback when making cancellation decisions.


Updated: March 2, 2021