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July 19, 2011
Some Academic Libraries Jointly Negotiate Electronic Access Deals
I have only a little bit to add to the antitrust discussion, and that is merely referencing an article published on July 17th in the Chronicle of Higher Education (Premium Content, subscription required). It's called Libraries Abandon Expensive 'Big Deal' Subscription Packages to Multiple Journals and it details how three Oregon academic libraries abandoned a comprehensive subscription package because of low usage and high prices. The original deals were negotiated by two different library consortia.
The three libraries struck out on their own and negotiated a new deal together with Elsevier. The company wasn't expecting that as a standard course of business, but took it seriously once it realized that the schools were also serious. The libraries were successful at crafting a deal that got them a subscription package with the right content at an acceptable price. My favorite quote from the article, referring to the proactive negotiation process:
Relatively few have tried it yet. Mr.[David C.] Fowler [University of Oregon's library's head of licensing, grants administration, and collection analysis] thinks that fear is what has held a lot of libraries back. "Fear of change, fear of upsetting the apple cart," he said. "They're afraid of faculty blowback and student reaction and 'What if the vendor's mean to us?'"
Mean indeed. What? Fewer toys at the convention booths? [MG]