Module 2.3 – Bundled together

stevepb / Pixabay


Bundling is a marketing concept where complementary goods and or services are collated and marketed at a sale price that seemingly appears to be lower than the collective price of the individual prices ( For libraries, bundling seems to proliferate among the educational sector as a system of obtaining a range of resources (either print or online) to booster up the collection of the library (  For a regular fee, retailers or providers, provide a range of resources that would appeal to a majority for a ‘reduced’ cost. In theory, bundling can be cost effective as the prices are lower due to the group discount and there usually is a range of sources. In reality there are a host of possible problems that can affect the quality and breadth of a library collection.

 As a high school library servicing students from years 7-12 we have access to databases to ensure our students are able tor research.  Like many other colleges and universities around the world, we have subscribed to a ‘BIG DEAL’ journal package. Machovec (2014) surmises that the advent of the internet and movement of journals from print to digital has lead publishers to creating “packages either in subject collections or as complete sets”.  To put it bluntly, its a ‘one size fits all’ that has a fixed fee and the lure that one can easily forecast into future budgets with its often temporary price-cap time period (Frazier 2001). Carson and Pope (2009) point out that licencing thus pricing is a major issue as should a library decide against a subscription or part of a subscription, it could lead to complete lack of access to both “previously subscribed or future content” (Carson & Pope, 2009).  This can have ramifications as libraries will be unable to provide the much needed access that is required by Freedom of Information Act 1982 (OIAC, n.d.).

 The other issue with online journal bundling is that often essential or important journals are aligned with weaker and irrelevant titles and the library is unable to disentangle and separate the wheat from the chaff.  The follow on from this ‘equality’ among journals is that lower quality ones continue to thrive as their sales targets are being met. Additionally, the seemingly successful low quality journal continues to thrive and newer, more astute publications often struggle to compete with them as they are not affordable once the libraries pay out their fee for a Big Deal package.  Market control much? Libraries and librarians are unable to supply their local community with materials that are relevant to them. (Machovec, 2014)

 With print books ie from Lamont books or Australian standing orders, books are preselected by the retailer and then sent to the schools for their perusal.  In our school, we have Standing orders and Lamont sends over books intermittently for our perusal. What we have noticed is that all the books sent over are rarely read by our student population.  Granted that there would be a few books that appeal to the demographics at our school but the majority just move to the shelves and become attractive dust catchers for the rest of their life till Marie Kondo appears.  We have also noticed that controversial books and challenging books are not always in the order and we often have to go and order them separately from or to add balance. This why bundling of library resources does not always work as the only source of material for a collection.

 As a school library, we are mandated by ALIA’s tenants that our collection suits our students and staff.  Breeding (2019) points out that library staff “should be able to evaluate and acquire preferred products in each category and not be locked into a bundle”. We know what our students want and need, it feels that our collection should be based upon the ‘wants and needs’ of our community.  It appears that bundling, whilst a cheaper option up front, may not be necessarily the best.

References (N.D) Bundling. Retrieved from

ALIA (2016) Guidelines, standards and outcome measures for Australian public libraries. Retrieved from

Breeding, M., (2019). Discovery Services. American Libraries. Jan/Feb2019, 50 (1/2), p71. Retrieved from

Frazier, K. (2001). The librarians’ dilemma: Contemplating the costs of the ‘big deal’. D-Lib magazine, 7(3), 1–9. doi: 10.1300/J123v48n01_06

Machove. G., (2014) Consortial and the future of the big deal journal packages. Journal of Library Administration. Oct2014, 54 (7), p629-636. DOI: 10.1080/01930826.2014.96403.

OIAC (N.D) Freedom of Information Act 1982.  Retrieved from

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *