Libraries Addressing the Need for Sustainable Access to Scholarly Publications

Oct 10, 2018
In order to provide access to scholarly journal literature that is necessary for learning and innovation across the Big Ten universities, libraries must enter into agreements with publishers who control pricing in a restricted, monopolistic market. Year on year, publisher inflation added to the library’s investment in journals, books, data, and media results in reductions in the library’s purchasing power. The Big Ten Academic Alliance Libraries are working to leverage their collective buying power and to use their influence to offset traditional publisher price increases and to provide alternative paths to publication for scholarly authors.

Current programs in Library Initiatives are alleviating some of the pressure on publishing costs. Joint negotiation for licenses with significant for-profit publishers has enabled member libraries to cap inflation rates on annual costs for journals. The UBorrow service enables our libraries to provide students and faculty access to one of the largest collective library collections in existence. Through a digitization partnership with Google Books, and digital files housed at the HathiTrust Digital Library, our libraries have scanned millions of books and journals that are available broadly for the consortium.

Recently, the Big Ten Academic Alliance led a significant multi-consortium effort to push back on the publisher Taylor and Francis' (T&F) policy change.  Organized by the Director of Library Initiatives Kim Armstrong, consortia representing libraries with over $60 million in annual spend with T&F worked together to oppose:
  • the creation of an opportunity to monetize content that previously had been included with subscriptions; 
  • the breach of good faith under which our libraries had conducted business with T&F; and 
  • the disservice to the user community who would find an annual loss of content problematic for their work. 
As a result, T&F backed away from their proposal in North America, restoring what they call complimentary access to a fixed point in time.  

Going forward, the Library Directors are working together to shape and develop initiatives that will increase the public impact of research by expanding access to the publications and data of Big Ten scholars. To meet this goal, librarians will include efforts to increase the amount of open content available  to the public through a variety of publishing channels. 


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