Message on SUNY/Elsevier negotiations [Nov 20, 2019]

Dear Campus Community:

I am writing to offer a brief update of our negotiations with Elsevier.  As you may be aware, the SUNY Library Consortium (SLC) has been negotiating with Elsevier on behalf of SUNY institutions over its terms of renewal for ScienceDirect, a platform that provides access to thousands of journal articles and books, most of them published by Elsevier or one of its imprints.  The SUNY-wide subscription to ScienceDirect expires on December 31, 2019.  Despite the SLC’s diligent work over the past two+ years, negotiations are at an impasse.

Thus, I am also writing to assure you that should SUNY decide not to renew its ScienceDirect subscription, Sojourner Truth Library patrons will experience minimal disruption.  Students, faculty and staff will still be able to access core Elsevier backfile content directly.  Other content will be accessible through Interlibrary Loan – often with minimal delay.

As additional background, please be aware that SUNYwide access to ScienceDirect is very costly, reaching over $9 million last year ($45 million over the life of the contract).  This accounts for about 25% of SUNY’s overall journal expenditures.  SUNY currently pays more than twice as much per FTE for ScienceDirect than other major consortia. Moreover, a recent study by SUNY ESF librarians concluded that at their institution, one that specializes in the sciences, only about 2% of ScienceDirect titles are being accessed by student and faculty researchers.  This suggests that much of the content we are paying for is generally unused.  (See

Following months of activity and several negotiating sessions, Elsevier has not offered SUNY a fair and reasonable renewal price.

The SLC working group will be reaching out to Elsevier to conduct another round of negotiations before December 31, 2019.  SLC negotiators have received support from many SUNY campus administrations, and from the SUNY faculty, to decline renewal should Elsevier not lower their costs significantly.  At their October 10-12, 2019 Plenary, the SUNY University Faculty Senate adopted a resolution to decline a SUNYwide ScienceDirect renewal, and several campuses have affirmed that resolution.  The text of that resolution can be found at

More information is forthcoming.  Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or concerns.



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