UC Agrees to Big Deal     

The University of California's California Digital Library buys electronic journal subscriptions collectively for all nine  University of California campuses. Their Big Deal with Elsevier was up for renewal this year.  Negotiations with Elsevier were long and difficult.  This summer,  UC negotiators were pessimistic about the chances of getting reasonable terms from Elsevier and were  "prepared to walk."  The Chancellors at the individual campuses also showed some backbone. They announced that if the joint agreement failed, they would not allow individual libraries in the UC system to strike separate deals with Elsevier.  In the end a deal was reached, as reported by the Library Journal.

Hard bargaining paid off.  The new contract is  much  better than what was originally offered.  The library gained two useful concessions.  1) The amount of money paid to Elsevier for electronic access  will be  reduced from $8 million in 2003 to $7.3 million in 2004.  2) The UC libraries  will also drastically reduce their holdings of paper editions of Elsevier journals, cutting their spending on paper journals from $2.3 million in 2003 to $400,000 in 2004.  Thus in total, the UC will spend about 25% less on Elsevier journals in 2004 than they did in 2003.

Although Elsevier prefers to sign secret contracts with its customers, the UC contract must be public information  under the state's public records law  and thus the CDL  refused to sign any nondisclosure agreements  Here are some details of the contract  supplied by the CDL.    More  information is available at the UC Library News site.
Here is a copy of the contract betweeen Elsevier and the CDL.

Even at these reduced prices, the  University of California has no reason to be content.  The deal is not that good.   The negotiators have avoided a price increase for Elsevier journals, but by any reasonable measure, the university is still being taken to the cleaners.     Elsevier journals still cost several times as much per page as nonprofit journals.    In their letter to the faculty explaining the outcome or the Elsevier negotiations, library administrators inform us that   the  "economics of scholarly journals publishing are incontrovertibly unsustainable."  Can this polysyllabic thunder  means that the CDL is planning to drive a harder bargain in the future?   One can hope...

Elsevier's official announcement  reports that   "Mutually beneficial deal brings scientific and medical information to the University of California system "  According to the Elsevier blurb:      "Although the negotiation period was challenging for both parties, the tone of the discussion was professional and cordial throughout."
It is great to hear that the discussion was professional and cordial.  It is so tiresome to have
one's pocket picked by surly amateurs.  Incidentally, by email today I received a notice of
Yet another opportunity  for a confidential and mutually beneficial deal