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Four Minnesota private colleges (Carleton, Gustavus Adolphus, Macalester, and St. Olaf) have independently decided to decline a three year renewal of Science Direct through our regional cooperative, MINITEX. Through a MINITEX subsidy of this e-journal bundle our schools enjoyed access to full text of over 700 e-journals for the past three years, but find we cannot justify renewal of this deal for another three years.  

While the reasons and decision processes were somewhat different on each campus, we are all convinced that the escalating prices for many scientific journals are unsustainable and that the time has come for change. (It is not just Reed-Elsevier's Science Direct package that employs an unsustainable pricing model.) For each of us the disproportionate amount spent for a small percentage of scientific journals was negatively affecting our ability to build a balanced liberal arts college collection. We are moving to reduce the disproportionate impact on our budgets of a few large commercial publishers. In declining the Science Direct offer we have elected to retain the ability to cancel high price/low value journals in favor of titles that offer greater value and promote business models consistent with the interests of our institutions.  

Our faculties are aware that this decision will result in a painful reduction in a overall journal access in the short term. But they are supporting us because they understand that it is in the long term interests of our institutions to reassert control over our collections and to encourage new, more sustainable publishing models. Scientists now recognize that this is not a "library problem", but a broader crisis in scholarly communication. Open access journals are a clear alternative to the unsustainable bundling of journals, which prohibits cancellations and which consistently increase at rates of 5-8% per year.  

We are working with other colleges and universities to address this crisis by supporting the work of SPARC, Public Library of Science, and other groups that seek to increase broad and cost-effective access to peer reviewed scholarship. In declining the Science Direct offer we are joining an increasing number of institutions signaling that we are serious in our demands for reasonable pricing for scholarly communication.  

In addition, on each campus we are beginning to increase outreach efforts to encourage our administrations and faculties to engage in discussions related to scholarly communication, and to evaluate publishing alternatives, including the open access model. Specifically, we are encouraging our college communities to consider:

Sam Demas, Carleton College
Terri Fishel, Macalester College
Bryn Geffert, St. Olaf College
Dan Mollner, Gustavus Adolphus College

May 2004

Maintained by: Kathy Tezla
Last updated: Monday, 31-May-2004 09:46:40 CDT