The Libraries’ good deal: New three-year contract with publishing giant Elsevier

After a year of negotiations, the Colorado State University Libraries recently agreed to a new three-year contract with scholarly publishing giant Elsevier, through the Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries.

CSU researchers will continue to have access to the 2,300 journal titles from Elsevier currently available through the Libraries.

The Libraries subscribes through CARL, a coalition of 14 academic libraries in Colorado and Wyoming, to leverage the influence of collective purchasing power. CARL has agreed to pay about $7 million for Elsevier journal titles, and the Libraries will contribute roughly $1.6 million. Annual inflation rates for journal subscriptions typically vary between 4% to 8%, but the Alliance secured an approximately 15% discount from the previous Elsevier contract.

“Access to information is a cornerstone for student success and research success,” said Karen Estlund, dean of libraries. “In negotiations, we advocate for the needs and interests of our community, but we also champion the value of CSU researchers’ labor and contributions to research journals. Elsevier, like other academic publishers, relies on the labor of our researchers to produce the very materials they sell back to the University.”

Faculty support critical

Faculty support played a critical role in the successful negotiation. The Faculty Council Committee on Libraries supported the option of walking away from a package deal if necessary, which is happening with major universities across the country. However, thanks to the hard work of the CARL negotiating team and Libraries faculty and staff, the discount was enough to maintain access to the package

“Data-driven decisions were key to our success,” said Meg Brown-Sica, assistant dean of scholarly communications and collections. “We analyzed journal prices, our usage data, interlibrary loan costs, and the likelihood of journal content to be freely available elsewhere through open access. We knew clearly what our users needed.”

Some details of the deal will be made public on Big Deal Tracker, created by the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition or SPARC, which increases transparency and efficiency in negotiations by tracking institutional spending on journal subscription packages.

The Libraries will be back at the table with Elsevier in three years, and there are other contracts to negotiate with the four other largest publishers, such as Sage, Wiley, Springer, and Taylor and Francis. “The Libraries is ready negotiate for the best interests of our researchers and our communities,” said Estlund.