Pilot Program Offers Greater Access To Journal Resources
Dec. 21, 2022
SHSU Media Contact: Campbell Joseph Atkins
The Texas Library Coalition for United Action (TLCUA) has concluded negotiations with Elsevier, the world’s largest publisher of scientific journals, for subscription journal access. All TLCUA’s 44 public and private universities across Texas, including Sam Houston State University, have signed or are finalizing new agreements for subscription journal access, giving their campus communities greater access to the journals necessary to their educations.
“We were able to negotiate a lot of aspects of the licenses that we would never have been able to get on our own,” said Eric Owen, director of SHSU’s Newton Gresham Library. “Before this, we were seeing a yearly cost increase by 3.5-4 percent. Subscription costs were always going up, which was not sustainable.”
SHSU will receive a 30 percent discount on journal subscriptions, which is among the highest of all involved institutions.
“For the contract that we have, which lasts through 2024, we are seeing savings of a little over $300,000,” Owen said. “We need that kind of discount back in order to support any of the other products, and we subscribe to many of them, for all our various programs on campus.”
The savings from the deal with Elsevier allows NGL to still purchase necessary journals and subscriptions from other services that continue to increase by as much as five percent each year without asking for more from the university’s overall budget.
“Having any kind of big savings is incredibly helpful for us to be able to hold the line on any existing resources and gives us the ability to bring in at least a few new things as they arise throughout campus,” Owen said.
TLCUA spent years negotiating sustainable pricing for strained library budgets in higher education, but also made progress on its other goals of improving access to scholarship and providing authors with greater control over their published work over time.
TLCUA and Elsevier have agreed to partner on a pilot project to revert ownership of journal articles back to original authors—and not just those at TLCUA-member institutions. Currently, authors transfer copyright of their work in exchange for that work being published. This pilot will provide for rights to go back to authors after a period that will be collaboratively determined with Elsevier. A subset of Elsevier journals will be chosen to study the impact of the copyright reversion pilot for authors and its applicability more broadly to STEM (scientific, technical, engineering and medical) publishers.
All TLCUA-member authors who choose to publish their work under an open access license will have access to discounted author publication charges (APCs). TLCUA also negotiated a license template that removed non-disclosure terms, restrictions on sharing usage data, and 44-year-old limitations on interlibrary loans to expand library collaboration and improve how libraries can share information on journal usage.
"We worked very hard with Elsevier leadership and negotiators to come to an agreement that aligns the values and priorities of our members and those held by Elsevier," said lead negotiator and open access advocate Jeffrey Spies of 221B Consulting. "I am particularly excited about the copyright pilot project. Copyright is an often-overlooked ingredient in securing a more open scholarship, and the library community has a real opportunity here: to work with authors to share their work openly because it will once again be their work."
Along with Spies, the team negotiating with Elsevier consisted of faculty, library leaders and librarians with collections expertise representing the diverse membership of TLCUA.
Initial workshops to define the parameters of the pilot project will begin soon. TLCUA has begun exploring their next negotiation priorities and other projects that can benefit from state-wide collaboration.
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