Primary Research Group has released a new study: Licensing and Copyright Management: Best Practices of College, Special and Research Libraries.

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The report is based on interviews with academic libraries, consortiums and corporate/special libraries. Among the participants are: the University of Idaho, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, IBM, PricewaterhouseCoopers, the University of South Carolina, the University of Michigan, the Statewide California Electronic Library, Tulane, Albion College, Ernst & Young, and the Saskatchewan Provincial Library.

Some of the Report's Findings are Presented below:

  • The sometime dramatic tension between information vendor and information end user has started to subside as publishers and libraries have gotten to know one’s needs better. Neither side feels as threatened as in the past and contract language for database leasing is becoming more standardized and end user friendly.
  • Serious issues remain to be resolved, particularly over archival access for electronic journals, and pricing for joint paper and electronic access. However, in general, the level of animosity between the parties has diminished.
  • A perhaps excessive emphasis on institutional prestige may be leading some particularly academic library consortiums to restrict membership and undermine some of the gains that can be accrued when consortiums have diverse memberships.
  • Consortium growth appears likely to grow quickly in Asia and Europe, sometimes along a model prevalent in the USA.
  • Many consortiums and group buying arrangements emerge out of more casual contacts that later grow into consortiums as participants gain in trust and capacity for cooperation.
  • Trust in the accuracy of usage statistics supplied by vendors appears to have significantly increased and such statistics very much form the basis for overseeing database usage/acquisition decisions.
  • The level of legal threat over unauthorized or unpaid for use of databases in fact appears rather low and most colleges take seriously the task of overseeing access as long as the rules are relatively clear and easy to implement.
  • There is no common standard for the role of consortiums or group buying arrangements in database training. Consortiums may be able to play a more beneficial coordinating role.
  • Consortiums and group buying arrangements might significantly benefit from benchmarking studies designed to relate costs to tasks performed, taking into account the wide ranging levels of volunteer labor used by different consortiums
  • For the most part librarians do not appear to be using new software tools to track database terms and conditions and ease the work load in servicing and renewing licenses.
  • Modest but very real gains can be achieved from broadening consortium or group buying initiatives to include types of libraries that are sharply different from the main libraries that compose a consortium. Public libraries can benefit from the economies of scale in cooperating with college libraries and vice verse. Special libraries can also substantially benefit from consortium membership at least when database usage terms do not prohibit commercial usage or can be modified to allow for use by for-profit enterprises. The rule of thumb should be: focus on the potential mutuality of need and not on the often more obvious differences.
  • Estimates of typical savings through consortium pricing vary widely but an average guess for savings averaged out over all contracts is about 30% off the actual price generally negotiated with single libraries, not the “sticker price” which for licenses are viewed as largely fictional.

The price of the report is $80.00 and it is available directly from Primary Research Group, or from major book distributors such as Baker & Taylor, Yankee Book Peddler, the Book House, Blackwells and others.

For a PDF review copy recognized publications and web sites serving the information industry, libraries or the general public may send an email entitled PDF-Review-Licensing to Include the name of your publication in the body of the message. For sample chapter, see the download option with this press release.

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James Moses