ICOLC Issues Statement on the Global Economic Crisis and Its Impact on Consortial Licenses

On Monday, January 19th, the International Coalition of Library Consortia (ICOLC) issued a statement on the impact of the global economic crisis on libraries, with a particular focus on library consortia.

Written on behalf of the many library consortia across the world that participate in the ICOLC, this statement has two purposes. It is intended to help publishers and other content providers from whom we license electronic information resources (hereafter simply referred to as publishers) understand better how the current unique financial crisis affects the worldwide information community. Its second purpose is to suggest a range of approaches that we believe are in the mutual best interest of libraries and the providers of information services.

The statement goes on to outline the observed and expected impacts on libraries:

  • We expect significant and widespread cuts in budget levels for libraries and consortia
  • These cuts will be prolonged.
  • Exchange rate fluctuations are complicating and in some cases amplifying the impact.

The statement offers two principles that, from the perspective of the consortia and their member libraries, will be most effective in dealing with these impacts:

  1. Flexible pricing that offers customers real options, including the ability to reduce expenditures without disproportionate loss of content, will be the most successful.
  2. It is in the best interest of both publishers and consortia to seek creative solutions that allow licenses to remain as intact as possible, without major content or access reductions.

Lastly, the statement suggests approaches for content providers based on these principles:

  • Purchasers will trade features for price.
  • Putting price first will help all parties, because budget pressures will drive decisions in a way never seen before.
  • Tailoring content to need and pricing accordingly can be very helpful.
  • Multi-year contracts will be possible only with clear opt-out and/or reduction clauses.
  • While annual payments currently are the most prevalent payment schedule for group licenses, options will be needed for semi-annual or quarterly payment schedules, in combination with more flexible opt-out/reduction clauses and renewal cycles.

The statement itself goes into more details about each of these impacts, principles, and approaches. Wendy Stephens of Buckhorn High School (New Market, Alabama) has written a great analysis of this on the ALA AASL blog. Disclosure: my employer is a signatory to the statement.

The text was modified to update a link from http://www.aasl.ala.org/aaslblog/2009/01/29/in-a-tough-economy-databases-under-threat/ to http://www.aasl.ala.org/aaslblog/?p=354 on January 20th, 2011.

The text was modified to update a link from http://www.library.yale.edu/consortia/icolc-econcrisis-0109.htm to http://icolc.net/statement/revised-statement-global-economic-crisis-and-its-impact-consortial-licenses on November 13th, 2012.

The text was modified to update a link from http://www.library.yale.edu/consortia/icolc-econcrisis-0109.htm to http://icolc.net/statement/revised-statement-global-economic-crisis-and-its-impact-consortial-licenses on November 13th, 2012.

The text was modified to update a link from http://www.library.yale.edu/consortia/ to http://icolc.net/ on November 21st, 2012.

(This post was updated on 21-Nov-2012.)