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Elsevier Journals Canceled in FY 2000 by SERG.
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Science & Engineering Resource Group

Elsevier Serials Canceled in FY 2000

Dear Colleagues,

In FY 2000, the Stanford University Libraries spent almost $4.6 million to purchase 22,759 serial subscriptions. Of this, $1 million was spent on 500 journal subscriptions published by one large publisher, Elsevier. Approximately $900,000 of the $1 million was spent in the Science and Engineering Libraries. The Coordinate Libraries also spent another $0.3 million on serial subscriptions published by Elsevier.

Over the past two years, with your assistance and feedback, the Stanford University Libraries have done a comprehensive review of our Elsevier journal subscriptions. As a result, we have cancelled 25% (in $). We felt that this review was important to do because of high subscription costs, high cost per use for some titles, and a need to reallocate funds for a 7.5% surcharge that Elsevier would levy for electronic access. We also hoped that any funds freed up could be used to purchase requested journals not currently owned by Stanford.

Unfortunately, Elsevier’s offer changed much more than anticipated because we cancelled journals. Here’s how the offer changed:

  • Initial Offer: $25,000 annual platform fee for the campus, surcharge of 7.5% of print price, and electronic transaction allowances or tokens totaling 25% of the dollars we spent that could be used to purchase non-subscribed articles at $30 each directly from the publisher. After the tokens are used up, the cost is $15 per article. If we converted to electronic only subscriptions, the cost would be 90% of the print subscription. Local archiving of electronic journal subscriptions was possible. This offer was contingent on no more than 1% of our current journal subscriptions being cancelled. If more than 1% was cancelled, then the surcharge would increase from 7.5% to 15%.
  • Revised Offer: When we cancelled more than 1% of our titles, Elsevier revised the terms of the offer. There was still a $25,000 annual platform fee for the campus, but the surcharge increased to 20% of print price and no electronic tokens were included. In addition, no individual articles could be purchased directly from Elsevier. Local archiving of electronic version of subscriptions was still possible.

So where are we now? Because of the exorbitant fees in the revised offer, we cannot afford to subscribe to the Elsevier Science Direct Package that provides electronic access to all available years of their journals. However, we do have access to the Web Editions for Elsevier that offers rolling electronic access to the latest 9 months of our print subscriptions at no charge. The Lane Medical Library did sign an agreement for Science Direct and their Elsevier titles are available to the entire campus. They also have tokens for Medical School users to cover the $30 cost for each abstract or article displayed for titles they do not get on subscription.

While we are disappointed by the outcome, in order to be fiscally responsible, cancelling was the right thing to do. It doesn’t make sense to have a subscription where reshelving data shows that we are paying $100+/use when it costs $40/use to buy articles on demand. Decisions on what journals to get should be determined by campuses, not publishers. Being forced to retain the current base of subscriptions (in $), and not being able to even cancel duplicate subscriptions, is unacceptable.

As you know for other titles we do not own, the Libraries use a variety of document delivery services and cooperative agreements to fill requests for needed articles in 2–4 days. This is our plan for cancelled Elsevier journals. Soon, we’ll have a web form available to expedite submitting requests. And, if we find that a title is being requested so much that it is more cost-effective to reinstate the subscription, we will do so.

We appreciate your patience, support, and understanding as we move ahead.

  • Grace Baysinger, Head, Science and Engineering Resource Group; Head, Swain Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Library
  • Charlotte Derksen, Head, Branner Earth Sciences Library and Map Collections
  • Karen Greig, Acting Head, Engineering Library
  • Michael Newman, Head, Falconer Biology Library
  • Stella Ota, Acting Head, Physics Library
  • Linda Yamamoto, Head, Mathematical and Computer Sciences Library
  • Joe Wible, Head, Miller Marine Biology Library [Hopkins]

Last modified: February 18, 2010

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