Over the past few years the MIT Libraries – like many US research libraries– have been watching with interest the development of “offsetting” agreements in Europe and the UK. In offsetting agreements, a single license incorporates costs associated with access to paywalled articles and costs associated with open access publication. This type of agreement has emerged in Europe and the UK and been the source of both new deals and broken deals.
Earlier this month I read this article by Kenneth Frazier from D-Lib Magazine which argues that academic libraries should reconsider the value of so-called “big deals” from publishers. The core of the argument is that the downsides of these journal packages outweigh the benefits of convenience and an arguably lower cost per title. I say “arguably” about cost per title because, if one excludes the titles in a bundle that are rarely or never used when calculating per title cost, the value proposition is significantly different.
This post is inspired by a number of discussions in the library profession over the past few years. Fobazi Ettarh’s article Vocational Awe and Librarianship: The Lies We Tell Ourselves in In Library with the Lead Pipe, the Symposium on Invisible Work in the Digital Humanities at Florida State University, and Stacie Williams’ keynote “All Labor is Local” from the 2016 Digital Library Forum to name a few.
[Authors note — this post was drafted back in January, so although the Scholarly Kitchen post that inspired it is a little old, the general themes are still relevant]
Joseph Esposito was being intentionally provocative, perhaps even tongue-in-cheek in places, in his post back in January, Why Elsevier is a Library’s Best Friend. There are some good exchanges with commenters, many of whom had the same thoughts I did as I read. Here are a few additional responses both to Esposito and to fellow SK’er David Crotty about the post and the back-and-forth in the comments.