Librarians for Fair Access resists exclusive content contracts

such a bitter pill to take

Library database vendor EBSCO now has exclusive deals with content providers — Time, Inc., and Forbes. Libraries who had been getting access to this same content through other vendors will have to pay up or lose electronic access to popular titles such as Sports Illustrated, Time and People. Gale, a competing vendor, has responded with their Fair Access campaign including the Librarians for Fair Access facebook group.

tl;dr version: If your library doesn't have EBSCO and wants to continue to offer electronic access to some magazines, they will have to get EBSCO. Previously, most magazines were aggregated and sold by many companies, more about the specifics here.

According to Gale: "If you currently receive Time Inc. or Forbes periodical content electronically from Gale or any provider other than EBSCO, you and your patrons will lose access to that content over [2010]."

What changed? EBSCO responds, in Library Journal "In many cases, an exclusive relationship is the only way you can have the content in your databases." They were the top bidder in an RFP put out by Major Magazines who felt that they were losing revenue because too many people read their magazines in the library for free. That said, EBSCO is no stranger to the idea of exclusive contracts.

What can librarians and patrons do about this? A list from The Book of Trogool.

  • Talk to your librarian now, not later. If you need to protect access to a particular journal, the time to talk to the bibliographer/selector/liaison/serials librarian responsible for decision-making in your area is now. After a journal is cancelled is too late.
  • Self-archive. You need those citations, especially as article-level metrics begin to thrive, and some citations come from people for whom if it's not online and immediately available, it doesn't exist.
  • Choose, use, and evangelize open-access journals. If you're going to wind up limited substantially to what you can find freely online, isn't it to your advantage to increase the amount of material available freely online?
  • Support open-access policies where they're in play. Whether at your institution, in your scholarly society, or nationally, open-access policies are springing up like weeds. Support them. Vocally. If they're not happening where you are, you can start the ball rolling!
  • Be aware of what's going on where you publish, and where your scholarly societies are positioning themselves. A librarian can help you with this, saving you research time.