Keep in mind that most database pricing is set on the FTE (full-time equivalent) count of your college. That should help some smaller colleges get more affordable pricing. Sometimes community colleges will get even better pricing so it does not hurt to ask the price comparison and if they are willing to give you the lowest they can. Also, may consortia offer discounted database subscriptions so you may want to see what groups are available for your library/college to join.
For each subject area there are often go to databases to start with. For instance, with religion in particular, the ATLA (American Theological Library Association) has a database than may libraries that support religion studies would want. They have an indexing database and a full-text serials database ATLAS. For any small library that is starting out on database subscriptions I would spend the money on full-text and not just indexing. Many libraries get a discount on ATLAS through consortia.
Education has ERIC (indexing and full-text). I am sure there are other go-to databases for education but I am a subject expert. There are many business solutions as well. Some libraries, large and small, benefit from general academic collections. That can be one way to get a core full-text database collection to cover multiple subject areas, with titles such as "General" and "Complete." When you are looking at databases and buying more than one it can be useful to see how much overlap in coverage from one database to another; you don't want to pay multiple times for the same content if possible. Look at both titles covered, as well as dates covered.
Beyond buying databases, you could benefit from having a link-resolver subscription. That allows you to link your full-text from various databases to the indexing in others, so that your users can get to all of your full-text from various places. This can be really useful to set up with external sites as well, such as GoogleScholar. GS provides lots of indexing and if you have a link resolver GS can show links to your full text, even if searchers start in Google and not at your library.
Also, you may get a package deal from a vendor, with discounts on multiple purchases. But make sure you are getting what you want and not just a fixed package that will not be useful to your library users. I think you have a great plan to get full-text databases to support each of the areas of study at your institution. Online library resources can plan an important in supporting your academic programs and research, and are also favored for accreditation reviews. Good luck on the hunt!
Steven K. Bowers
Sent: Aug 15, 2018 11:48 AM
From: Catherine Pendley
Subject: Database advice for a new librarian
I have just begun a new career as the academic librarian at a small religious four-year college (religion, education, and business degrees are our focus). We need to add some full-text journal databases to our collection (currently we have none). I need recommendations for database companies that will be an asset to our students' research needs yet also affordable. Thanks in advance for your help!