Elsevier, Germany…and Taiwan too

So, January 2017 has arrived and with it access to Elsevier journals has disappeared for over 60 institutions in Germany’s Deal Project group. The standoff between Elsevier and Project Deal is here. Who will blink first? This is now a very public disagreement watched with great interest by universities, libraries and librarians worldwide. However, it feels like the time has come to have this fight. And a fight is what it is and it’s likely to last for a considerable amount of time. Each side is making its case with carefully worded statements: Elsevier and Project Deal. Interestingly, Project Deal stated that many other institutions have indicated that they will not renew their current Elsevier contracts when they are due for renewal if no agreement is reached by then. Both sides say that negotiations are continuing.

Meanwhile, Taiwan has stepped into the ring and now it too is having a standoff with Elsevier. Taiwanese consortium, CONCERT, which includes over 75% of Taiwan’s universities, announced it would not renew its Elsevier contract. From 1st January 2017 access to Elsevier’s journals stopped for CONCERT institutions. Taiwan Tech’s statement makes for interesting reading as they also give their reasons for making their decision. They include information showing the year on year cost, percentage increase in subscription fees and the percentage of the Taiwan Tech Library budget that this consumes.

How are libraries going to help their customers cope without electronic access to Elsevier’s current journals? This can only become a gradually bigger problem over time as more journals are published and their customers have no access to them. Both Project Deal and CONCERT institutions affected by the 1st January cut-off have advised their customers to use Inter-Library Loans, to check institutional repositories for open access copies, to search Google Scholar or to try contacting the author directly to obtain a copy of the article they want to read.

Now, if you thought this was only a problem for Elsevier, consider this FAQ response by Project Deal member, the University of Munster:

Has the University of Munster cancelled contracts with other major publishers?’

“For the moment, the DEAL project group is only negotiating with Elsevier. The project group plans to initiate negotiations with the other major providers of academic journals, such as Wiley and Springer/Nature, in 2017 and 2018”.

Sounds like we’re in for a long haul so let’s settle down and let’s wait and see what the next move will be…and who will make it!