Acquisitions for journals and periodicals have always been a bit complex. Subscription agents would help libraries with large numbers of subscriptions from different publishers process their renewals, taking into consideration new or dropped titles. Today, publishers offer almost all scholarly journals electronically, with print delivery only sometimes available as an option. E-journal content may be purchased through “big deal” packages, where a publisher bundles large numbers of titles together at a set price, including both those in high demand and low use. The ever-increasing burden of these big deals has pushed some libraries to drop these arrangements in favor of more selective purchases or even by subsidizing patron purchases of articles on demand.
The amount of content available through open access adds a level of complexity to collection development. Although these resources are free, libraries still need to take measures to ensure that open access materials of interest are incorporated into their collections and included within their discovery systems.
Libraries are also involved with collections of digital multimedia materials. In many cases, the digital collections are created in-house and managed through a digital asset management system. Libraries also purchase or license these digital collections of images, video, digitized manuscripts, statistical data sets, or other research data.