November 26, 2012
The Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN) has announced a decision to terminate the national license agreement it has held with the American Chemical Society (ACS) since 2001 for its Web Editions and Legacy Archives products. Termination of the CRKN-ACS license will take effect at the end of 2013, at which time participating libraries may choose to contract directly with ACS or implement alternate arrangements.
The decision to terminate the national agreement was taken by the CRKN Board of Directors after the organization’s negotiating team was unable to reach a renewal agreement with ACS, owing to fundamental issues with the new pricing model adopted by ACS for its international (non-US) library and consortia customers.
Under ACS’s new pricing, costs for participant libraries will be determined solely by usage, using the average number of full-text downloads from the most recent three years, and with participating institutions organized into usage bands. Any growth in usage that would move a participating institution into a higher usage band would result in a prohibitive price increase that could double or triple the cost of the ACS content. This pricing regime represents a huge financial risk for those libraries that are most committed to promoting ACS resources, and will penalize those who are most successful in integrating ACS content into new web- and mobile-based discovery and access systems that are used increasingly by university researchers and students.
“CRKN’s Board of Directors took this decision, with regret, after thorough due diligence, consultation with members, and evaluation of options,” reported Deb deBruijn, Executive Director. “Volatile, unpredictable and prohibitive pricing will serve to deter, rather than foster, full utilization of this important content by our members’ researchers and students. Ultimately, ACS’s approach runs counter to CRKN’s mission of maximizing use of digital content nation-wide so as to build universities’ research capacity, enable innovative research outputs, and add to the international pool of research ingenuity.”
The decision to terminate CRKN’s agreement with ACS comes after twelve years of partnership between the two organizations, made possible by a series of large-scale, stable, multi-year agreements that were negotiated in good faith by both parties and maintained with streamlined administration. This partnership expanded the reach of ACS’s journals into sixty-six Canadian universities, transforming the research environment for chemists and enabling major advances in interdisciplinary, inter-institutional, and international work.
CRKN and its member libraries will use the coming year to wind down the national agreement and engage researchers, students, and other stakeholders in the critical issues that surround this development. In consultation with their user communities, member libraries will also review local needs and identify options for providing key content in ways that reduce or mitigate the financial risks introduced by ACS’s usage-based pricing. CRKN will support its members through this transition, and will also add its voice to the international efforts of research universities, libraries and consortia that are strongly urging ACS to re-evaluate the business and pricing model it has applied in recent negotiations.
The Canadian Research Knowledge Network is a partnership of Canadian universities, dedicated to expanding digital content for the academic research enterprise in Canada. Through the coordinated leadership of librarians, researchers, and administrators, CRKN undertakes large-scale content acquisition and licensing initiatives, currently amounting to almost $100 million annually, in order to build knowledge infrastructure and research capacity in 75 of Canada’s universities.