Following up on my message of September 18, 2020, and in response to the need to achieve the budget reduction target necessitated by the continuing financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Library, Museums and Press will cancel our bundled journal subscription with Elsevier Publishing. This single action will yield a savings of over $2M.
Several universities across the country—indeed, around the world—have changed the nature of their relationship with Elsevier and other large publishers. These actions have been taken because of Elsevier’s pricing model and apparent inflexibility in negotiating. As one of the largest publishers in the world, they wield a lot of clout and many institutions believe that Elsevier does not negotiate in good faith. While we, at the University of Delaware, were not scheduled to negotiate with Elsevier for another year, we do have the option to cancel our contract with appropriate notice. Given the timing within which we must meet our budget target, unfortunately, there was not time to consult more broadly across the campus, as would have normally happened before a significant cancellation such as this.
Rest assured, our goal is to ensure that you maintain access to the journal content that is important to your teaching, research and scholarship. In canceling our subscription bundle at this time, we will retain access to subscribed Elsevier journals that were a part of the package through the December 2020 issues. Access, directly through Elsevier, will not be available for 2021 issues and forward, until such time that funds become available for us to reinstate our subscription.
Researchers may use the Library’s robust Interlibrary Loan service to request 2021 and subsequent issues of Elsevier journals from elsewhere. We are prepared to manage what may be an increased demand on this service. Many members of the campus community, we suspect, also have other means of accessing content (personal subscriptions, as members of editorial boards, other colleagues, and the like). The library liaison to your department or college may also provide assistance in finding alternative means of access to the content. We will also update a special website with information about accessing Elsevier content.
This was a very difficult decision to make. However, with all the other actions we have taken to mitigate the financial impact, there is very little else we can do to achieve our required budget savings. Over the past four years, we have reduced the staff of the Library, Museums and Press through a combination of restructuring, unfilled vacancies and the voluntary retirement program. We cannot effectively function, providing the vital services, programs, resources, events and staff expertise that contribute to your success, with any fewer staff. Our cuts, therefore, must come from other places, which, regrettably, include our collections budget.
I appreciate your understanding as we all work through these rather challenging times together. We remain firmly committed to supporting your research and teaching at the University of Delaware. Please reach out to me or to your liaison librarian if you have any questions.
Trevor A. Dawes
Vice Provost for Libraries and Museums and May Morris University Librarian