Libraries Join Together to Address the Economic Crisis and Scholarly Publishing

ARL Issues Statement to Scholarly Publishers and Vendors

Washington DC–The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) has released a statement on the current global economic crisis and its effect on publishing and library subscriptions. The ARL statement, which is aimed at scholarly publishers and vendors, reinforces some of the key points in a recent statement by the International Coalition of Library Consortia (ICOLC) and offers additional observations and recommendations from the perspectives of ARL member libraries.

Large libraries are far from exempt from the consequences of the current global economic crisis. Downturns in state support for public institutions along with substantial losses in endowment funds mean that many ARL member libraries are facing substantial reductions in both operating and materials budgets. In addition to cuts already made, there is strong evidence that most ARL member libraries are preparing for further budget reductions in the 2009-2010 fiscal year.

It is the common view among research libraries that they, like many smaller libraries, are facing protracted budget reductions and they expect that cuts being implemented now are permanent. Unlike earlier recessions and inflationary cycles, few are in a position to consider budget management strategies aimed at carrying collections budgets over a few lean years.

The ARL statement includes a set of recommendations that are based on the belief that scholarly publishers who are committed to enhancing the effectiveness of the scholarly communication system are prepared to act to minimize negative impacts on the system resulting from economic conditions. Among other strategies, the statements calls for publishers and vendors to adopt flexible approaches to pricing and avoid reducing content or access as libraries seek to renegotiate expenditures. ARL encourages publishers to consult widely with research libraries in developing responses to the current economic environment. Small, not-for-profit publishers are of particular concern, and ARL member libraries welcome conversations regarding new publishing models that can reduce the cost and vulnerability of established publications of high value.

The full statement is available on the ARL Web site http://www.arl.org/bm~doc/economic-statement-2009.pdf.

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