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ARL Statement on New Transformative Publishing Agreement between the University of California and Elsevier

It is an exciting time in scholarly publishing. After walking away from negotiations with Elsevier in 2019, the University of California (UC) system has reached a full publish-and-read agreement with the publisher—now the largest transformative agreement in North America. Today’s news from UC follows a series of recent announcements of large-scale arrangements between research libraries and commercial and open-access publishers to disseminate open scholarly articles authored by the institutions’ own faculty and researchers. Using a variety of novel approaches—including transformative agreements, publish-and-read contracts, open publishing models, and simply breaking big deals—research libraries are renegotiating the terms and costs under which they license journals.

“Our members are pursuing multiple strategies to advance equitable and barrier-free access to knowledge,” said Association of Research Libraries (ARL) Executive Director Mary Lee Kennedy. “What they share is a commitment to working with faculty, students, and administrators to align libraries’ collections investments with their values and with institutional mission.”

Distinct and intersecting institutional goals are driving libraries to the negotiating table under new frameworks. These goals include (1) reducing the burden of publishing fees (article-processing charges, or APCs) for authors and instead making an institutional commitment to pay those fees; (2) expanding access to research produced at the institution; (3) making the scholarly communication ecosystem more equitable; (4) supporting scholars’ research needs, such as rights retention and machine access to scholarship; and (5) containing or driving down costs.

ARL’s Action Plan includes a public policy commitment to protect and expand digital rights to information, including fair use; scholar-facing support for data sharing and open scholarship; and strengthening university press, library, and scholar-led publishing. Our member libraries are leading profound transformations in scholarly communication within their institutions and the research and learning ecosystem.


About the Association of Research Libraries

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 125 research libraries in Canada and the US whose mission is to advance research, learning, and scholarly communication. The Association fosters the open exchange of ideas and expertise; advances diversity, equity, and inclusion; and pursues advocacy and public policy efforts that reflect the values of the library, scholarly, and higher education communities. ARL forges partnerships and catalyzes the collective efforts of research libraries to enable knowledge creation and to achieve enduring and barrier-free access to information. ARL is on the web at ARL.org.


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