Libraries Joins Coalition to Improve Access to Scientific Journals

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AUSTIN, Texas — The University of Texas System has joined the Texas Library Coalition for United Action (TLCUA) to rethink how university libraries collectively can improve access to faculty research and to push for changes to the costly subscription models offered by publishers of academic journals.

A total of 41 institutions in Texas have now joined the Coalition – including the 14 UT institutions – making it the largest and most diverse consortia of its kind and giving it significant negotiating power.

Beyond the high cost of subscriptions, which is becoming unsustainable for many academic institutions, the Coalition is advocating for increased author control of their own scholarship and for university libraries to increase the accessibility of scholarship produced by their own faculty members.

“While we are certainly concerned with ensuring access to scholarly materials and managing the related costs, the UT System’s highest commitment is to the quality and stewardship of the research enterprise at the 14 academic and health institutions,” said Chancellor James B. Milliken, who together with the presidents of all 14 UT institutions agreed to join the Coalition. “If there was ever a moment to reimagine how we engage with commercial publishers of research, this is it, when COVID-19 has disrupted so many of the traditional and previously unquestioned business and operational models for libraries, research and scholarship.”

The Coalition’s first order of business is negotiating a mutually beneficial contract with Elsevier, the world’s largest publisher of scholarly work, for journals accessed through its ScienceDirect platform. Now that the UT System has joined the Texas Library Coalition, the member institutions collectively represent an annual investment of more than $25 million in the ScienceDirect platform. The UT System accounts for just over $10 million of these subscriptions for 2020, though its total multi-year contract with Elsevier exceeds $50 million.  

“This partnership among the leading institutions of higher education in the state of Texas will challenge the model that has represented the status quo for acquiring access to scholarly resources – one that has worked to the detriment of libraries and their constituents in recent decades,” says Vice Provost and Director of the University of Texas Libraries Lorraine Haricombe.

“The volume of affected stakeholders and the amount of financial resources involved among the members of the Coalition will be a motivating factor for all parties, and will significantly change the nature of future negotiations as we seek to expand access – including the expansion of open access opportunities – and to reclaim institutional research that has been absorbed by modern scholarly publishing practices,” continues Haricombe.

“By joining this collective effort, the leaders in state higher education can open pathways that will lead to accelerated innovation, expanded access for diverse populations and the global diffusion of Texas research on a far larger scale than could be achieved independently.”

The current members of the Texas Library Coalition for United Action are: 

  • ●    Angelo State University
    ●    Baylor University
    ●    Lamar University
    ●    Prairie View A&M University
    ●    Rice University
    ●    Sam Houston State University
    ●    Stephen F. Austin University
    ●    Sul Ross State University
    ●    Tarleton State University
    ●    Texas A&M International University
    ●    Texas A&M University (College Station)
    ●    Texas A&M University-Central Texas
    ●    Texas A&M University-Commerce
    ●    Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
    ●    Texas A&M University-Kingsville
    ●    Texas A&M University-San Antonio
    ●    Texas A&M University-Texarkana
    ●    Texas State University
    ●    Texas Tech University (Lubbock)
    ●    Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso
    ●    Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Lubbock
    ●    The TMC Library
    ●    The University of Texas at Arlington
    ●    The University of Texas at Austin
    ●    The University of Texas at Dallas
    ●    The University of Texas at El Paso
    ●    The University of Texas Permian Basin
    ●    The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
    ●    The University of Texas at San Antonio
    ●    The University of Texas at Tyler
    ●    The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
    ●    The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
    ●    The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
    ●    The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
    ●    The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
    ●    The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler
    ●    West Texas A&M University
    ●    University of Dallas
    ●    University of Houston
    ●    University of Houston Clear Lake
    ●    University of Houston Downtown

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