Open and Shut?: Unbundling the Big Deal: An interview with SUNY’s Shannon Pritting

“Nevertheless, many libraries did sign big deals. And many later regretted it, not least because, having done so, they felt they had no choice but to keep renewing the contract, even as the cost kept going up and devoured more and more of their budget. 

Libraries felt trapped, conscious that if they did not renew they would have to go back to subscribing to individual journals at list price, which would mean being able to afford access to fewer journals, and fearful that when they discovered that journals they wanted were no longer available, faculty would revolt.

Over time, however, a greater willingness to think the unthinkable emerged, and some libraries began to cancel their big deals. And when they did so the sky did not fall in – which allowed other libraries to take heart.

The list maintained here suggests that libraries began cancelling their big deals as long ago as 2008, but the number doing so has been accelerating in the last few years. What has really focussed minds are the recent decisions by both the University of California and MIT to walk away from their negotiations with Elsevier rather than renew their big deals.

But it is not necessary to walk away completely in the way UC and MIT have done. Instead, libraries can “unbundle” their Big Deal by replacing the large package of several thousand journals they are subscribed to with a small à la carte bundle of a few hundred journals, and in the process save themselves a great deal of money.

What is helping libraries to make the decision to unbundle is the knowledge that more and more research is becoming available on an open access basis. In addition, new tools like Unsub are available to advise them on which journals they can cancel without too great an impact, and which journals are essential and so should be retained….

So how is a decision to unbundle made, and what are the issues and implications of making the decision? To get a clearer picture I spoke recently by email with Shannon Pritting, Shared Library Services Platform Project Director at SUNY. In April, SUNY replaced its Big Deal of 2,200 journals with Elsevier with a “little deal” of just 248 journals. By doing so, it says, it has saved about $7 million….”

 

MIT Terminates Elsevier Contract Over Open Access Dispute

“In an unprecedented move last year, the University of California system terminated journal negotiations with Elsevier over open access issues and higher costs. Last month MIT did the same, saying the publisher’s proposal did not align with the MIT Framework for Publisher Contracts. The UC system includes more than 280,000 students and over 227,000 faculty staff. MIT has roughly 24,000 students, faculty and staff in its system.

Developed in 2019, MIT’s Framework creates a mechanism to ensure research is freely and immediately available, while recognizing that the value in published papers lies with the authors and institutions that support them. Since it’s debut, more than 100 institutions have endorsed the MIT Framework in recognition of its potential to advance open scholarship….”

SPARC Debrief on Three Recent Big Deal Cancellations – SPARC

“On May 15th, SPARC hosted a member debrief on recent Big Deal cancellations. Curtis Brundy, Evviva Weinraub Lajoie, and Nerea Llamas, spoke about their institutions’ processes leading up to the decision to walk away from their bundled Elsevier subscriptions, shared suggestions for other libraries that may be considering a similar move, and answered questions from the audience. 

All three institutions sought a cost reduction in their upcoming Elsevier contracts, as well as sustainable, affordable, and transparent agreements before making the ultimate decision to unbundle their Big Deals. Each speaker emphasized the importance of campus engagement strategies, including surveying faculty, hosting town halls, and equipping themselves and others with in-depth data analysis processes. Speakers recommend empowered negotiations decision-making through tools and communication strategies, ensuring vendors do not drag out the timeline for their own gain. …”

With Student Textbook Savings Nearing $50 Million, SUNY Chancellor to Double Courses Offered with Free, Digital Learning Materials

“Committed to creating universal access to higher education in New York State, State University of New York Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson today announced that SUNY will double the percentage of general education courses offered with Open Educational Resources (OER). Replacing and/or supplementing textbooks in an increasing number of courses, OER are freely accessible, low-cost, predominantly digital learning materials that have saved SUNY students more than $47 million on textbooks since 2017….”

New partnership between SUNY and Lumen aims to take open educational resources to scale

The State University of New York system has, with its sister City University of New York, become in many ways the center of the open educational resources universe, thanks in part to its size and in (larger) part to the state Legislature’s recent multimillion-dollar investments in OER.

On Wednesday SUNY took another step toward solidifying that role with an agreement extending and expanding its current relationship with Lumen Learning, one of the companies that has embedded itself in the open educational resources space to try to improve the quality and increase the usage of OER-based digital courseware.

Under the terms of the three-year agreement, SUNY will cover the costs for all students to use content provided through Lumen at no charge. (OER content itself is typically free, but platforms like Lumen typically charge a per-student, per-course fee to use the platform through which the content is delivered, which often includes homework and feedback tools and other services that textbook publishers have increasingly wrapped around their textbooks.) …”

Professional development varies widely to support instructors teaching online and using OER

“Faculty members in the State University of New York system who want to transition from proprietary course materials to open educational resources can take advantage of the OER faculty fellowship, a semester-long series of seminars and workshops that culminates in the creation of a new openly licensed course resource. The program originated in 2014 and has grown since New York state’s substantial investments in OER….”

SUNY Board of Trustees Open Access Resolution | University Libraries

“On March 22, 2018, the SUNY Board of Trustees passed an Open Access Policy and System Repository Resolution put forward by Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson.

The resolution instructs all SUNY campuses to adopt “an open access policy that recognizes each campus’s unique mission and culture by no later than March 31, 2020”.

On February 6, 2017, Stony Brook University became the first SUNY campus to adopt an open access policy. The SBU Open Access Policy leverages Green Open Access, allowing SBU authors to retain their copyright, publish in the journals of their choice, and share their final peer-reviewed article drafts in an open access repository….”