The following article was originally a presentation at the Collection Development Discussion Group meeting at ALA Midwinter in San Diego, January 10, 2004.
|As libraries and publishers struggle to contend
with rising serial costs, flat or reduced budgets, and increased demand
for electronic access, it is critical that they become allies rather
than adversaries. As allies they can work toward solutions that are a
win/win, i.e. libraries and publishers
each get the deal they want.
An example of a win/win was the recent EPSCoR/ESIG (see sidebar, below) and Marcel Dekker, Inc. consortial agreement to provide access to the Dekker suite of journals for participating ESIG members. Through this agreement, libraries obtained access to the Marcel Dekker subscriptions for a minimal fee and Marcel Dekker ensured their subscription base. For libraries like Albertsons Library, at Boise State University, that subscribed to only one of the Dekker titles prior to this deal, their patrons gained access to over 80 new journals that the library was unable to purchase on an individual basis. The story of this agreement is as follows: In February 2003, a request was posted on the
Marcel Dekker, Inc. and provided a copy of the original ESIG/Dekker offer. The need for a package that benefited all ESIG members regardless of their size or current Dekker subscription level was discussed. We reviewed the proposal and made suggestions for changes.
On May 3rd, 2003, the revised
Dekker proposal was sent to the ESIG listserv. There was limited
interest in the initial proposal. The
next month was spent working with Miriam to improve the proposal, which
was revised and re-sent on May 30th, 2003. At that time a matrix of
individual libraries’ Dekker subscriptions was sent to interested
institutions. The matrix gave them the information they needed to
evaluate their current subscriptions and to determine the value of this
offer for their library. We also brainstormed with Miriam about ways to
improve the proposal and expanding the offer to other library consortia such as GWLA (Greater Western Library Alliance) and PASCAL
(Partnership Among South Carolina Academic Libraries.) Within the next two weeks, thirteen
libraries indicated their decision to participate in the ESIG/Dekker
agreement. On June 17th, 2003, the final revisions of the
proposal were resent to the ESIG listserv, and a last call for
participants was issued.
At that time, negotiations were put on hold for eight weeks due to
prior summer commitments.
After the two month hiatus a request was sent to the libraries that had expressed interest in the ESIG/Dekker offer, asking them to reconfirm their commitment. The initial review of the license began with the assistance of Chris Sugnet, Director, Collection Development & Management, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The final license was mailed on October 2nd, 2003. At that time billing and contact information for the participating libraries was sent to Marcel Dekker, Inc. On October 24th, 2003, the license was signed and a week later access to the online journals became available.
Some of the
attributes of the ESIG/Dekker deal are common to all consortial
arrangements. Others were
unique to that particular situation. In discussions following the
completion of the project, the publisher’s representative and the ESIG
negotiators agreed on the following list of key components that made the
process a win/win.
lCommunication, communication, communication;
lFace-to-face initial meeting with publisher and ESIG representatives;
lNo hidden agenda, all emails and communications copied to all parties;
lTrust – honesty;
lInvestment, time and money invested on both sides;
lPublisher's understanding and flexibility in licensing;
lAppreciation – both sides appreciated the efforts of the other to make this deal happen; and
lESIG has a common goal/purpose, providing greater access to STM information; there was no debate among libraries about the need for this information.
The success of the ESIG/Marcel Dekker deal was in part due to the publisher's representative and the negotiators being committed to open communication, trust, and the understanding of what both sides needed in order for the deal to be successful. The relationship that developed during the negotiation process emphasized the importance of alliances between libraries and publishers. Both sides believed that the initial face-to-face meeting between the publisher’s representative and the library negotiators was the most important factor in the success of this project.
At the conclusion of the ESIG/Dekker
agreement, we began to speculate about the uniqueness of our experience. Did other consortia and publishers complete purchasing
agreements in a similar manner? What was the average timeframe for the
completion of a consortia agreement? Are most publishers willing to work
with consortia, formal and/or ad hoc groups?
It was decided to survey publishers about their work with
consortia. We were particularly interested in learning about the
flexibility of licensing, the time line for a typical consortial
negotiation, the future of consortia/publisher agreements, and what
steps libraries and publishers can take to ensure future win/wins. To
expedite sending and receiving information, an online survey was created
using Microsoft FrontPage. The
survey and a brief introduction explaining the purpose and use of the
information were emailed to twenty-six publishers in early December
2003. 46% of publishers
responded and the results were imported into a Microsoft Access database
to assist with analysis. The
survey questions and a summary of the publishers’ responses are
The ESIG/Dekker project may not have been unique in the history of consortial agreements; however, it did provide us with a great deal of information about consortial work. We also gained insight into an area of the consortial world that had previously received little of our attention, the needs of the publisher. Our experiences with ESIG negotiations and the publisher survey results lead us to conclude that consortial arrangements will continue to be an important part of the way libraries and publishers do business. Changes in these types of arrangements will be for the most part positive for both libraries and publishers. Libraries will increase the use of ad hoc consortia as well as formal consortia to create alliances that maximize their buying power. Publisher/consortia negotiations will be completed more rapidly due in part to the standardization of licenses. As allies, libraries and publishers will continue to improve and maintain open communication. That communication will be an essential part of future consortial work and an essential factor in achieving a win/win: getting the deal you both want!
To make use of our newfound knowledge and skills, we agreed to represent ESIG in a second negotiation, this time with the Institute of Physics. We had decided that the most important factor in the success of the ESIG/Dekker deal was an initial face-to-face meeting between publisher representatives and consortial negotiators. We used the same approach for this new project, meeting with representatives of IOP. We were able to get acquainted, offer suggestions, and give both sides the opportunity to establish some initial guidelines. The arrangements for participating ESIG libraries to purchase the Recent and Historical Archives of the Institute of Physics were finished in about one half the time it took to complete the Marcel Dekker deal, less than four months. There’s nothing like building on your successes.