Library Collections: A Forum
Review and Renewal Process for UC Licensed Resources

November 14, 2013

UC has access to a vast richness of electronic resources. Over the past decade, the California Digital Library, negotiating on behalf of the entire UC system and in close collaboration with key UC-wide stakeholders, has been successful in leveraging the resources of UC to achieve creative and precedent-setting license agreements. This shared approach has resulted in significant discounts for the UC Libraries and access to far more content than any one campus could license individually. Local campus faculty groups have regularly been consulted during the licensing process.

Today, a great deal of scholarly publishing is in the hands of a small pool of commercial publishers who continue to derive significant profits from the license agreements with institutions such as UC. Many academic societies have placed their content with these publishers for a variety of reasons including the promise of higher revenue. Historically, UC has enjoyed favorable costs from several publishers because UC was an early adopter of publisher offerings as publishers tried different models. As the models evolved, the revenue expectations from publishers and the static library budget situation present more challenging negotiations. The primary goal for CDL package renewals is to reduce ongoing costs given the budget challenges that all UC campuses face.

The UC process for licensing new electronic resources as well as renewing existing licensed packages involves input from all 10 UC campuses for tier 1 packages or from a subset of at least 3 - 4 UC campuses for tier 2 packages. Examples of tier 2 packages include those licensed resources for the 5 health sciences campuses. Each campus has an equal vote in determining business terms and package content. For ejournal content, there are only 5 major publishers (Elsevier, Wiley, Springer, Taylor & Francis, and Sage) who offer collectively approximately 11,000+ titles. When CDL negotiates on behalf of the UC libraries, the agreements with ejournal publishers are based on some portion of the publisher's inventory of ejournal titles. Some ejournal titles from these publishers are not included in consortial agreements. While the CDL and publisher negotiations may take place over several months, the final list of titles that a publisher will include in a package is typically not set until November during the year that the renewal is due. Usually, decisions for which titles are included in the renewed package must be agreed upon by all participating campuses within 30 days. Thus, it is possible that titles which are essential for UC Davis faculty, staff, and students are not included in the final UC-wide agreement. In those cases, librarians must decide whether to subscribe to those titles locally which increases the library's expenditures with that particular ejournal publisher.

The UC negotiation process for ejournal packages includes using the results of a rigorous value assessment of all ejournal packages done in 2012. This assessment used objective, quantifiable, metrics that took into account multiple vectors of value. Comparisons of quality, utility and cost effectiveness were made across all journal publisher packages that UC licenses. An overview of the methodology can be found at CDL's website.

If negotiations for ejournal package renewals are not successful, there usually is a reduction in the number of titles to which we will subscribe in order to manage our expenditures. Please remember that eligible UC individuals may use the UC interlibrary loan system that provides timely access to library resources not purchased or licensed by the library. The library's interlibrary loan service provides a quick method for obtaining a journal article from one of the UC or other libraries. If you need to access many journal issues of a particular title, then a local subscription may better meet your research needs. There is a web site with a form to complete if you would like the library to subscribe.

For information regarding recent decisions for ejournal packages, consult the Update: Fiscal Year 2013/14 Review of UC Licensed Resources.