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ARL Statement on Texas Library Coalition for United Action Agreement with Elsevier

Today more than 40 public and private academic institutions in Texas—members of the Texas Library Coalition for United Action (TLCUA)—announced the conclusion of a successful negotiation with Elsevier. TLCUA member libraries secured cost savings on journal subscription access, along with a set of favorable license terms and a novel pilot experiment in restoration of author copyrights that stands to benefit all authors, not just those associated with TLCUA member institutions.

The announcement from Texas follows several years of steadily increasing activity in academic and research libraries as they work closely with their faculty and university administrators to address the sustainability of scholarly publishing by negotiating new open-publishing models, combining the costs of subscriptions with the cost of open access publishing, or breaking “big deals” (agreements that provide access to bundled/comprehensive e-journal content) altogether. TLCUA used elements of existing “read and publish” agreements, including discounted article-processing charges (APCs) for affiliated authors who publish their work under an open license in subscribed journals.

Experimenting with an evidence-based approach to copyright reversion, TLCUA and Elsevier will select a subset of journals for a pilot in which copyrights are restored to all authors after a period of time, and study the impact for authors and scientific journal publishers. In a collective opportunity for the research library community, this pilot will not just affect TLCUA member authors, but all authors published in journals included in the pilot. “The commercial life of an academic article is extremely short,” said Dave Hansen, executive director of the Authors Alliance. “The Alliance has long argued that reverting rights back to academic authors after a time should pose little downside risk to publishers, but has tremendous upsides for authors who want to steward their rights and ensure long-term access to their works.” 

In its deal, TLCUA removed non-disclosure clauses from their members’ licenses, an action that the ARL Board of Directors has long encouraged. Their agreed-upon license template further eliminates reference to the CONTU Guidelines—decades old interlibrary lending guidance that no longer works in the current market—as recommended in a 2020 ARL white paper.

ARL applauds the Texas libraries in protecting and expanding digital rights to information. ARL encourages all libraries to consult KnowYourCopyrights.org during negotiations for scholarly works. KnowYourCopyrights.org includes resources for library leaders to maximize the use of our library rights, and not cede rights due to restrictive license terms, negotiating shifts in technology and business models, or outdated practices rooted in risk aversion.

TLCUA chair and Rice University vice provost and university librarian, Sara Lowman, expressed her appreciation for the negotiating team and all the Texas partner institutions. “We are pleased to chart new and creative territory in publishing agreements for the benefit of our students, scholars, and the research and learning community,” said Vice Provost Lowman. “TLCUA members are excited to begin working with Elsevier on the copyright workshops in early 2023.”

About the Association of Research Libraries

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of research libraries in Canada and the US whose vision is to create a trusted, equitable, and inclusive research and learning ecosystem and prepare library leaders to advance this work in strategic partnership with member libraries and other organizations worldwide. ARL’s mission is to empower and advocate for research libraries and archives to shape, influence, and implement institutional, national, and international policy. ARL develops the next generation of leaders and enables strategic cooperation among partner institutions to benefit scholarship and society. ARL is on the web at ARL.org.

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