Higher education sector unites in calling on publishers to remove barriers to provision of e-books and e-textbooks

SCONUL, the professional association for academic and research libraries, in conjunction with the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP), the #ebooksSOS campaign, Jisc, National Acquisitions Group (NAG), Research Libraries UK (RLUK) and the UK purchasing consortia APUC and SUPC have released a joint statement and detailed position paper calling for immediate action by publishers and aggregators to introduce more sustainable and affordable pricing models for e-books and e-textbooks. The partners are working together to drive for change in this area.  
  • In the current publishing market libraries have been increasingly excluded from, or priced out of, providing e-books and e-textbooks for their students and their library users. The models and fees charged by publishers have become prohibitively expensive and unsustainable for libraries.
  •  Providing students and their teachers with online-only access to learning content has been a priority during the pandemic and will continue to be in a blended learning and teaching environment. E-books and e-textbooks are central to learning and teaching, from seminar reading to exam revision and ultimately qualification.
  • There is an expectation from the sector, that essential learning and teaching titles are available to students and library users to borrow without them having to purchase their own copies. The potential for the latter to perpetuate a two-tier system of education cannot be overlooked. UK libraries are ideally placed to coordinate and purchase all kinds of learning content supporting both the post-pandemic norm and current levelling-up agenda.
 In their joint statement SCONUL and its partners pledge to work collectively to enable students and teachers in UK higher and further education to gain equitable and sustainable access to e-books, e-textbooks and related teaching content. The detailed position paper from SCONUL outlines what this will look like.
 The partners aim to work constructively and actively with publishers and suppliers to ensure affordable and sustainable models that support student and academic needs and maximise efficiencies across the supply chain.

 

Libby Homer, Chair of SCONUL Content Strategy Group said

‘This is a call for simplicity, transparency, fairness and accessibility. As it stands, the marketplace is skewed against not just libraries, but users from universities to public libraries and NHS Trusts’ 

Nicholas Lewis, Library Director at the University of East Anglia and lead author of the paper, said

‘It’s time for all parties to re-prioritise the needs of students and library users in this marketplace and come up with far more sustainable solutions for the future’.

 

Notes to Editors:

1.      The full joint statement and SCONUL detailed position paper can be found here.

 

2.      About SCONUL:

SCONUL is the Society of College, National and University Libraries (sconul.ac.uk). We represent all university libraries in the UK and Ireland, irrespective of mission group, as well as national libraries and many of the UK’s colleges of higher education. SCONUL promotes awareness of the role of academic libraries in supporting research excellence and student achievement and employability, and represents their views and interests to government, regulators and other stakeholders. It helps academic libraries collaborate to deliver services efficiently, including through shared services, and to share knowledge and best practice.

 

3.      About Advanced Procurement for Universities and Colleges (APUC)

 

4.      About Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP):

 

5.      About the #ebooksSOS

 

6.      About Jisc: 

 

7.      About National Acquisitions Group (NAG)

 

8.      About Research Libraries UK (RLUK)

 

9.      About the Southern Universities Purchasing Consortium (SUPC)

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