A post on the SERIALST list yesterday by Linda Hulbert, Associate Director of Collection Management and Services at the O’Shaughnessy-Frey Library in St. Paul, Minnesota details one library’s response to contractual conditions being imposed by Wiley. I found it interesting because it highlights the challenges facing not only libraries, but content providers, and the perils of inflexibility.
The entire post can be found on the SERIALST Archive; I am including a large part of it in this post:
Another company is looking at the Elsevier model and using it. Unfortunately, unlike Elsevier where a library might get more content than they could pay for and unlike Elsevier which does not require that a library participate, Wiley is requiring all multi-site libraries to have a no-cancellation, minimum life time spend. Add insult to injury, we are not a multi-site library by any other vendor’s definition! But Wiley has designated us so. Without recourse.
So, I am sending this letter to many people at Wiley and in the library community. Please, help resist these kinds of publisher practices.
I am writing to you today in your capacity as someone concerned with [higher education, customer service] at John Wiley and Sons.
Wiley provides an EAL license which has three major features: two year agreement, a guaranteed minimum spend (no cancellations without adding titles) (ala Elsevier) and, for that ‘lock-in,’ libraries will have a cap on the annual inflationary increases. Wiley requires multi-site libraries – which they have declared we are – enter into an EAL license for electronic journal content.
We have two problems with this rigid requirement:
1. Wiley is now treating my university as a multi-campus university. Let me assure you that all other vendors treat us a single site because, while we have libraries in Minneapolis and St. Paul, we have a single IP address, single president, and a single Accounts Payable for all campuses (including Rome which has 4 seminarians studying abroad!).
2. The EAL license is required for all online journal content we purchase from Wiley/Blackwell in 2010. Currently, our online-only spend is about $3,000, our print +online is over $33,000, and our total spend is about $66,000 for journal content with Wiley. What does that mean for the University of St. Thomas? We would not be able to cancel – i.e. lower our ‘current’ spend. That means that as tuition dollars dry up, as the university’s contribution to the libraries shrink, we cannot cancel titles in the Wiley contract. It’s ironic that while we would be locked into a multi-year contract during these incredibly unpredictable and difficult financial times, Wiley could change their title list at will – buying or selling titles as the market dictates.
We have spoken with your representative, Diane Conroy, and there are no alternatives IF we want online journal content from Wiley. She is adamant.
Hence, our only option is to cancel all of our online content. I assume that is not Wiley’s goal but the only one we see available to us since we cannot agree to a multi-year, dollar spend commitment. We will cancel what we can – I can see about $30,000 in cancellations (27 titles) without too much pain. We will purchase print-only in the cases where we have had print +online and we will cancel our online-only and move back to print-only. As we all know, even good content that is print-only will become marginalized by our users and as it does, we’ll easily be able to justify canceling the remaining print titles. And, of course, we will not be purchasing new journal content from Wiley.
When September comes, if we have no agreement with Wiley for 2010 permitting cancellation and permitting single year subscriptions, we will have to take these draconian steps.
I will be sharing this letter with the Wiley board of directors, others in Wiley management, the serials community, the licensing community and other colleagues in the library community.
Thank you for your attention.
We in the library community need to be prepared to bend, but not to break. If a vendor isn’t meeting us halfway, then we need to consider walking away. There is always more than one way to achieve our mission, and we have to have that in mind and act accordingly. I hope Wiley takes notice of this library’s action, and looks to see how it can best serve both their customers, as well as their company’s, needs.