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Library Purchasing of Electronic Information Arnold Hirshon 25 Mar 1998 17:33 UTC

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For further information about this statement, contact:

        Arnold Hirshon, Vice Provost for Information Resources, Lehigh
University, Bethlehem PA. Phone: 610/758-3025.  Email:
Fax:  610/758-3004

For further information about ICOLC, contact:

        Tom Sanville, Executive Director, OhioLINK. Columbus, OH. Phone:
614-728-3600, ext. 322. Email:   Fax: 614-728-3610


        The International Coalition of Library Consortia (ICOLC) announced
today the release of its "Statement of Current Perspective and Preferred
Practices for the Selection and Purchase of Electronic Information." The
Statement establishes for the first time an international perspective on
consortial licensing and purchasing of electronic information by

        The document addresses current and future electronic information
environment issues such as the increasing expectations of library users in
a stable funding environment, fair use, archiving of information, pricing
strategies, and electronic information delivery metrics. The preferred
practices section covers contract negotiations, pricing, data access and
archiving, system platforms, licensing terms, information content and its
management, and user authentication.

        The explosion in electronic licensing, the wide variance in
publisher practices, rapidly escalating prices, and a concern about the
reduction in the number of independent scholarly information providers all
served as the impetus for the statement. The Statement calls for
developing multiple pricing models, separating charges for electronic
licenses from those of paper subscriptions, and lowering the cost for the
electronic information below that of print subscriptions. ICOLC expresses
its concern over the growing practice of publishers that levy initial
surcharges on electronic information, which is compounded by significant
multi-year inflation surcharges and prohibitions against libraries
canceling print versions of journal titles. As a result, while libraries
may receive access to a larger array of titles by paying the "print price
plus electronic subscription cost plus inflation," the total base price
for electronic access over the print subscription could increase by 40% or
more within as little as three or four years.

        Arnold Hirshon, vice provost for information resources at Lehigh
University, executive committee chair of the Pennsylvania Academic Library
Connection Initiative, and one of the authors of the Statement noted that
"the 'print price plus' cost model simply is not economically sustainable
for academic libraries.  We must develop alternative pricing structures
before the current pricing practices become the norm."  While recognizing
that publishers should be able to recover reasonable costs, the Statement
asserts that publishers cannot expect libraries to bear all development
costs today for incomplete product features and unstable systems.

        ICOLC seeks new economic models that reduce the unit cost of
information while enabling the lowest possible cost-per-access to a
journal title or article. "We see a potential for dramatic shifts in
pricing, with publishers and libraries working together to break the
current cycle in which libraries each year spend more on serials but are
able to buy fewer of them," said Tom Sanville, executive director of
OhioLINK and ICOLC convener.

        The ICOLC intends for the statement to be an olive branch to the
publishing community. Ann Okerson, associate university librarian at Yale
University and coordinator of the NorthEast Research Libraries consortium
(NERL), says "through the ICOLC we want to begin discussions with the
publishing community to advance the use and availability of electronic
information resources in educational and research institutions." Elmar
Mittler, Library Director, Niedersaechsische Staats- und
UniversitSigmatsbibliothek Goettingen, adds that "the ICOLC represents a
combined membership of over 5,000 libraries worldwide, which makes it an
effective forum to work with information providers to find common ground."

        David Kohl, dean of libraries at the University of Cincinnati and
a statement author, stresses that the Statement is about more than just
money.  "We are as concerned the quality of the content provided and the
ability to archive that content to guarantee future availability as we are
about the cost of purchasing that information today."


        The statement is endorsed by consortial representatives in
Australia, Canada, Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom,
and the United States, with additional endorsements anticipated from other
nations.  Inspired by a previously developed statement of electronic
information principles by a group of Dutch and German universities in
1997, Hirshon approached that group on behalf of the ICOLC to seek
European cooperation on the Statement.  Hirshon attended a meeting in The
Hague in February with representatives from the United Kingdom, the
Netherlands, and Germany.

        "We developed an instant rapport and common views," said Fred
Friend, Director, Scholarly Communication, University College London. Hans
Geleijnse, university librarian, Tilburg University, added "Scholarly
publishing increasingly is a global enterprise, and the strength of
libraries increases by working globally through consortia to establish
mutual positions." John Gilbert, head librarian, Universiteit Maastricht,
observed that "academic librarians around the world share the same
interest in providing the maximum amount of information to our faculty and
students at the lowest possible cost."

        The complete Statement can be found at

        Further information about the ICOLC can be found at


        Arnold Hirshon, Vice Provost for Information Resources, Lehigh
University, Bethlehem PA, and Chair, Executive Committee, Pennsylvania
Academic Library Connection Initiative. Phone: 610/758-3025. Email: Fax: 610/758-3004

        Tom Sanville, Executive Director, OhioLINK. Columbus, OH, and
Convener, ICOLC.  Phone: 614-728-3600, ext. 322. Email:
Fax: 614-728-3610

        Ann Okerson, Associate University Librarian, Yale University, New
Haven, CT, and Coordinator of the NorthEast Research Libraries consortium
(NERL).  Phone: 203/432-1764. Email: Fax:

        David Kohl, Dean, University Libraries, University of Cincinnati,
and Member, OhioLINK Library Advisory Council Coordinating Committee.
Phone: 513/556-1515.  Email: Fax: 513/556-0325



        The International Coalition of Library Consortia (ICOLC) is an
informal organization that began meeting in 1997. Comprising about sixty
library consortia in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, the
Netherlands, Germany, Israel, and Australia, the Coalition represents over
5,000 member libraries worldwide. The Coalition serves primarily higher
education institutions by facilitating discussion among its members on
issues of common interest. ICOLC conducts meetings to keep its members
informed about new electronic information resources, pricing practices of
electronic providers and vendors, and other issues of importance to
consortium directors and their governing boards. These meetings also
provide a forum for consortial representatives to meet with the
information provider community, discuss their products, and engage in a
dialog with Coalition members about issues of mutual concern. The ICOLC
also maintains listservs and web pages for the benefit of its members.
Alex Klugkist, chairman, Dutch University Library Association, and
university librarian, Groningen University notes that "the ICOLC has
become a highly effective forum to coordinate academic library efforts

Further information about the ICOLC can be found at



        This statement was adopted in principle by member representatives
of the "International Coalition of Library Consortia" (ICOLC) whose
institutions are listed below. This statement does not necessarily
represent the official views of each consortium listed. Consortia listed
are in the United States unless otherwise noted.

        Adventist Libraries Information Cooperative (ALICE); AMIGOS
Bibliographic Council, Inc.; Arizona Universities Library Consortium
(AULC); Big Twelve Plus Library Consortium; Boston Library Consortium
(BLC); British Columbia Electronic Library Network [Canada]; California
Digital Library (CDL);  California State University - Software and
Electronic Information Resources (CSU-SEIR); Center for Digital
Information Services [Israel]; Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries;
Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC)  Center for Library
Initiatives; Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization
(CSIRO) [Australia]; Consortium of University Research Libraries (CURL)
[United Kingdom]; Council of Australian University Libraries (CAUL)
[Australia]; Council of Prairie and Pacific University Libraries (COPPUL);
Florida Center for Library Automation (FCLA) and the Florida State
University System Library Directors; Gemeinsamer BibliotheksVerbund (GBV)
[Germany]; Illinois Cooperative Collection Management Program; Illinois
Libraries Computer Systems Organization (ILCSO); Israel Inter-University
Library Network; Louisiana Library Network (LLN); MINITEX Library
Information Network (Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota); Missouri
Research Consortium of Libraries (MIRACL); Missouri Research and Education
Network (MOREnet); OhioLINK; Netherlands Association of University
Libraries, Royal Library, and Library of the Royal; Academy of Sciences
(UKB) [Netherlands]; Network of Alabama Academic Libraries (NAAL);  New
England Law Library Consortium (NELLCO); New York Comprehensive Research
Libraries (NYCRL); NorthEast Research Libraries Consortium (NERL);
Pennsylvania Academic Library Connection Initiative (PALCI); Ontario
Academic Research Libraries (OARL) [Canada]; PORTALS; Standing Conference
of National and University Libraries (SCONUL) [United Kingdom]; TexShare;
Triangle Research Libraries Network (TRLN); University of North Carolina
System University Librarians Advisory Council; University of Texas System
Knowledge Management Center; Virtual Library of Virginia (VIVA); WALDO;
Washington Research Library Consortium (WRLC); Washington State
Cooperative Library Project



In the United Kingdom:
        Fred Friend, Director, Scholarly Communication, University College
London, England. Phone: 0171-380 7090. Email: Fax:
0171-380 7043In Germany:

In Germany:
        Elmar Mittler, Library Director, Niedersaechsische Staats- und
UniversitSigmatsbibliothek Goettingen, Germany. Phone: +49 (551) 39-5212.
Fax:  +49 (551) 39-5222 Email:

In the Netherlands:
        Hans Geleijnse, University Librarian, Tilburg University, Tilburg,
The Netherlands.  Phone: +31 13 466 21 46.  Email: Fax:
+31 13 466 33 70
        John Gilbert, Head Librarian, Universiteit Maastricht, Maastricht,
The Netherlands. Phone: +31 43 388 3404.  Email:
Fax:  +31 43 325 6932
        Alex Klugkist, Chairman, Dutch University Library Association, and
University Librarian, Groningen University, Groningen, The Netherlands.
Phone: +31 (0)50 363 50 02/3 Email: Fax: +31 (0)50
363 49 96