Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries & Elsevier Begin Contract Negotiations
Denver, Colorado (October 19, 2023) -- Sixteen university libraries in Colorado and Wyoming are collaborating to address critical issues in academic publishing that are creating inequities in access to information and raising the cost of academic journal subscriptions beyond what campus budgets can afford.
The university libraries are members of the Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries (Alliance), which is negotiating renewal of the Elsevier journal package on behalf of this consortium. The current multi-year contract with Elsevier expires at the end of 2023. Professional negotiator Jeffrey Spies is leading discussions with Elsevier on behalf of the Alliance, a departure from previous renewals.
The libraries are seeking through their negotiations with Elsevier a sustainable academic publishing model that supports the higher education scholarship and research enterprise without taxing the limits of what campuses can afford. Those goals are underscored by University of Colorado Boulder faculty whose governing body recently passed a resolution to support the libraries in the negotiation.
“Scholarly publications in high-quality, peer-reviewed journals are the currency of the realm for research universities,” said University of Wyoming Provost and Executive Vice President Kevin R. Carman. “Access to these journals is vitally important to the success of our faculty and students and thus the importance of our negotiations with Elsevier cannot be overstated.”
Such a model would provide improved access to scholarship, greater control over publishing faculty content, and a pricing model that is sustainable for strained library budgets. Transformative open access elements are a high priority for the group to meet Federal funding mandates as well as to change the broader publishing ecosystem to provide the public with unfettered access to taxpayer funded research.
Higher education budgets in Colorado and Wyoming are under continued downward pressure and libraries are concerned with meeting the research needs of the faculty and students. Some of the universities are also experiencing drops in enrollment further exacerbating their budgetary pressures.
“Nationally, we’re at a critical juncture in higher education,” said Colorado State University Dean of Libraries Karen Estlund. “People are rightfully asking, ‘What is the value of a higher education?’ To ensure the public’s trust in us, we have to look closely at how we are allocating funding because the costs impact student tuition. We have to align our decisions with the mission and values of higher education and seek a publishing model that serves our students, scholars and researchers.”
George Machovec, executive director at the Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries, has explained that “Big deal journal contracts are especially at risk for our consortium due to drops in library funding and enrollment for many institutions. The Elsevier contract is larger than all of our other consortial journal package contracts combined.”
Founded in 1981, the Alliance works with member libraries in Colorado and Wyoming to ensure the broadest access and lowest cost for contracts for academic journal subscriptions.
Elsevier is the world’s largest publisher of scholarly journals, with 70 offices in 24 countries. It publishes 2,500 journals, including The Lancet and Cell Press, covering topics in science, technology, engineering, health/medicine and other areas.
The Alliance institutions collectively have more than 180,000 students and thousands of faculty. Their Elsevier journal subscriptions represent a significant investment for members and currently represents a cost in excess of $7 million annually. Our hope is that through positive engagement and mutual understanding, an improved and sustainable model for the dissemination of scholarship can be achieved.