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Statement: ARL Supports University of California Libraries’ Commitment to Barrier-Free Access to Information

As approved by the ARL Board of Directors on September 27, 2019

The Libraries of the University of California (UC) are seeking transformative agreements with publishers such that access to the research of UC faculty is open to all, not limited to those who can afford it. In February 2019, the UC Libraries withdrew from negotiations with the publisher Elsevier due to lack of progress, and in July, Elsevier cut off access to current content for all UC campuses.

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) expresses strong support for the UC Libraries in their efforts to initiate change and expand access to research. While ARL member library approaches to transformative change may vary, we applaud UC’s commitment to the values and vision they have articulated even at the expense of disruption. In particular, we commend the strong coalition of faculty, librarians, and administrators across the UC system, that together developed the principles and together managed the negotiations.

Libraries and publishers play vital roles in the scholarly communications ecosystem, and they are as interwoven as they are essential to produce and disseminate vetted, peer-reviewed research that advances humanity and improves quality of life. Scholars now and in the future count on this ecosystem to be robust and sustainable.

In this age of innovative digital technologies, the Association of Research Libraries advocates for libraries to explore and invest in new approaches to scholarly communications with all our partners—teaching and research faculty, administrators, and publishers—to improve the research communications ecosystem. As well as leveraging new open infrastructures, libraries are working to change existing publishing models to improve access to information.

ARL appreciates the UC system’s leadership in the broader library community as we individually and collectively create new models to achieve enduring and barrier-free access to information.

About the Association of Research Libraries

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 124 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, promotes equity and diversity, 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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