University librarians have long complained that some scientific publishers offer package deals, in which several of their titles—both essential and less august—are made available for an exorbitant fee. Now, the director of libraries for the State University of New York (SUNY) Potsdam has taken a stand on the issue. Jenica Rogers, along with her colleagues at the small college, decided to drop their subscription to the online journal package offered by the American Chemical Society (ACS), starting in 2013.
Rogers explained, in her blog Attempting Elegance, that SUNY Potsdam will instead use a combination of Royal Society of Chemistry content, ACS single title subscriptions, the ACS backfile, and ScienceDirect from Elsevier (a publisher she is also "displeased" with, but is not allowed to opt out of the contract). Though unable to give exact numbers for the pricing model that she called "unsustainable," Rogers wrote that "the ACS package would have consumed more than 10% of my total acquisitions budget" for all of the school’s departments
"Librarians, this is a call to action," Rogers wrote, urging library colleagues and faculty members at other institutions to stand up against unsustainable pricing models for scientific journal packages and explore other options to gain access to subscription publications. She wrote that she and her librarian colleagues worked closely with the SUNY Potsdam chemistry department to do just that. "I argued to them that while I will always try to do what’s best for our students and faculty, we also have an ethical responsibility as active members of the scholarly information ecosystem to make smart choices."
(Hat tip to GenomeWeb.)