Cornell University

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  • Resolution regarding the University Library's Policies on Serials Acquisitions, with Special Reference to Negotiations with Elsevier, adopted by the Faculty Senate, December 17, 2003.
  • Summary: "At Cornell, Ithaca campus library budgets for materials increased by 149% during [the period 1986-2001], but the number of serials titles purchased increased by only 5% —at a time when the number of serials published increased by approximately 138%....Over the last decade Elsevier's price increases have often been over 10% and occasionally over 20% on a year to year basis....The [Elsevier] contract has been priced as a 'bundle,' that is, in such a way that, if the library cancels any of the Elsevier journals it currently subscribes to, the pricing of the other individual journals the library chooses to keep increases substantially. (The actual process is somewhat more complicated than this, but this is the end result.) Because the prices of the journals that are retained greatly increase when others are cancelled, the only way to achieve any real savings is to cancel a great many journals....The library, in consultation with affected faculty, has identified several hundred Elsevier journals for cancellation at the end of 2003....[T]he University Faculty Senate endorses the library's decision to withdraw from Elsevier's bundled pricing plan and undertake selective cancellation of Elsevier journals....Recognizing that the cost of Elsevier journals in particular is radically out of proportion with the importance of those journals to the library's serials collection (measured both in terms of the proportion of the total collection they represent and in terms of their use by and value to faculty and students), the University Faculty Senate encourages the library to seek in the near term, in consultation with the faculty, to reduce its expenditures on Elsevier journals to no more than 15% of its total annual serials acquisitions expenditures (from in excess of 20% in 2003)....Recognizing that the increasing control by large commercial publishers over the publication and distribution of the faculty's scholarship and research threatens to undermine core academic values promoting broad and rapid dissemination of new knowledge and unrestricted access to the results of scholarship and research, the University Faculty Senate encourages the library and the faculty vigorously to explore and support alternatives to commercial venues for scholarly communication."
  • The resolution links to a Cornell web site with background information on the problem and more details on the Cornell response.
  • Paula Hane, Cornell and Other University Libraries to Cancel Elsevier Titles, Information Today, November 17, 2003.
  • Jonathan Knight, Cornell axes Elsevier journals as prices rise, Nature, November 20, 2003 (accessible only to subscribers). Blog summary.
  • Anon., After failed negotiations, CU Library cancels Elsevier journal package, Cornell Chronicle, December 11, 2003.


  • Doris Small Helfer, Is the Big Deal Dead? Searcher, March 2004. Primarily on the Cornell action. [Not online.]


  • On May 11, 2005, the Cornell University Faculty Senate adopted a Resolution Concerning Scholarly Publishing.
  • On May 11, 2005, the Cornell University Faculty Senate adopted another resolution in support of OA.
  • Summary: "The Senate strongly urges tenured faculty to cease supporting publishers who engage in exorbitant pricing, by not submitting papers to, or refereeing for, the journals sold by those publishers, and by resigning from their editorial boards if more reasonable pricing policies are not forthcoming....The Senate strongly encourages all faculty, and especially tenured faculty, to consider publishing in open access, rather than restricted access, journals or in reasonably priced journals that make their contents openly accessible shortly after publication. The Senate strongly urges all faculty to negotiate with the journals in which they publish either to retain copyright rights and transfer only the right of first print and electronic publication, or to retain at a minimum the right of postprint archiving. The Senate strongly urges all faculty to deposit preprint or postprint copies of articles in an open access repository such as the Cornell University DSpace Repository or discipline-specific repositories such as"