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CRL and Partners Publish New LIBLICENSE E-Resources Model License

liblicense-screenshotThe Center for Research Libraries (CRL)—in collaboration with several partners, including ARL—has released the major upgrade of an important tool for library investment in electronic resources: a revised LIBLICENSE Model License Agreement. The new model license incorporates the best practices of the library profession and the best advice of legal and publishing professionals. The LIBLICENSE Project, started in 1997 at Yale University by Ann Okerson, who now serves as senior advisor at CRL, provides a rich source of information and guidance for libraries and other institutions seeking to license digital resources for their faculty, students, and researchers.

The model license outlines the main provisions a good library e-resources content license should contain, highlighting as well key points for decisions and negotiations with publishers. The document is expected to support libraries’ efforts to serve their users and achieve the core mission of preserving intellectual heritage in the digital age by negotiating the best terms of use. The original LIBLICENSE model license, released in 2001, has supported long-term access and stewardship goals; the new revision will help librarians address a new generation of issues and challenges.

CRL president Bernard Reilly said of the new model, “CRL was glad to support this important work, work that will enable librarians everywhere to do the best possible job of representing the interests of researchers, in their dealings with providers of electronic resources.” Ann Okerson concurred and added, “The collaboration of colleagues from throughout North America and the support of ARL, CDL, CRKN, and NELLCO, has made possible a dramatic improvement in the quality and currency of the information we can provide. The benefits will be felt far and wide, and soon.”

Charles Henry, president of the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) said, “LIBLICENSE and the new model license are vital components of the toolkit that librarians can bring to the table in assuring their users generous access to the highest quality digital resources. CLIR is pleased and encouraged to see this step forward.”

Elliott Shore, executive director of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), added, “ARL’s commitment to making it possible for the users of our libraries to have the information they need, when they need it, and how they can use it best, convinced us of the importance of refreshing and carrying forward the work of this project. We are delighted to participate.”

The effort was made possible with funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. As with the initial 2001 version, the Council on Library and Information Resources again provided support and encouragement. New contributors to this significant, yearlong effort included the Association of Research Libraries, the California Digital Library (CDL), the Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN), and the NELLCO Law Library Consortium, as well as the Emory University Libraries.

The development team, without whom this new version would not have been possible, includes: Ivy Anderson (CDL), Julia Blixrud (ARL), Craig Olsvik (CRKN), Tracy Thompson (NELLCO), Christa Williford (CLIR), and Ann Okerson (CRL) as convener. Extra acknowledgement goes to Lisa Macklin, director of the Scholarly Communications Office at Emory University Libraries, for her expert role in developing numerous versions of the document. The team gives special mention of the efforts of ARL’s Julia Blixrud, who passed away at the close of this process after a difficult illness. The team thanks also the dozens of individuals who offered comments on the draft in progress. Every comment was studied by the team and served to improve the model license.

In early 2015, the project expects to release an updated “Create Your Own License” software. Based on this new model license, the software is a total rewrite of the previous version, which enjoyed a healthy lifespan of over a decade. More information will be available upon release.

For more information, see the LIBLICENSE Model Licenses webpage or contact Ann Okerson, senior advisor, Center for Research Libraries, aokerson@crl.edu.


The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 125 research libraries in the US and Canada. ARL’s mission is to influence the changing environment of scholarly communication and the public policies that affect research libraries and the diverse communities they serve. ARL pursues this mission by advancing the goals of its member research libraries, providing leadership in public and information policy to the scholarly and higher education communities, fostering the exchange of ideas and expertise, facilitating the emergence of new roles for research libraries, and shaping a future environment that leverages its interests with those of allied organizations. ARL is on the web at http://www.arl.org/.

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