The Standing Conference of National and University Libraries (SCONUL) represents the directors of the national libraries and of all the university libraries in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The Consortium of University Research Libraries (CURL) has in full membership twenty of the most significant research universities in the UK and Ireland as well as other world-renowned institutions in association. The SCONUL and CURL libraries are major purchasers of scholarly journals, and future pricing and licensing arrangements are therefore of great concern to our institutions.

SCONUL and CURL share the concern expressed by the Dutch and German librarians regarding the terms of licences proposed for access to electronic versions of scientific and medical journals. The virtual monopoly in publishing journal titles, particularly apparent in the merger between the Reed Elsevier and Wolters Kluwer publishing groups, will restrict the ability of libraries to negotiate fair licence terms.

In making arrangements for access to journals from a number of publishers there is also concern about terms which prevent a library from cancelling titles for several years and which demand a premium for access to the text in electronic format. Libraries which are publicly-funded have a duty to achieve value for money and must be free to negotiate fair terms for access by their users to important journals. Price increases well above general inflation in recent years have not encouraged librarians to be confident that the public interest is protected when so much scholarly publication is concentrated in a few commercial companies.

The libraries in membership of SCONUL and CURL join with other librarians in looking for discussion with publishers on fair pricing and licensing arrangements which will ensure a balance between public and commercial interests.

February 1998

Issued jointly by:

The Standing Conference of National & University Libraries
102 Euston Street
London NW1 2HA
The Consortium of University Research Libraries
British Library of Political & Economic Science
10 Portugal Street
London WC2A 2HD

0171 387 0317

Fax: 0171 383 3197

0171 955 6314

Fax: 0171 955 7454

(Secretary, Toby Bainton)
(Executive Secretary, Clare Jenkins)