Maximizing the effectiveness for license and purchase of scholarly electronic works.

We foster and support the educational and research missions of its member institutions by coordinating the best possible licensing terms and prices for electronic resources.

The NERL Consortium was formed in 1996 by 12 ARL member institutions for the purposes of collaborating on licensing of electronic content, purchase, and licensing of electronic content consistent with the member libraries’ missions to support higher education and research. Today, the consortium consists of a core group of 30 of the most research intensive institutions in North America as well as 110+ affiliate member institutions.

NERL’s Mission and Vision

Vision : A unified force for change in the national and international scholarly communications landscape, NERL will stimulate and incubate innovative and transformation approaches to the global dissemination of knowledge.

Mission: A national leader in negotiated licensing, NERL maximizes effective and sustainable access to content for its member institutions. By building and supporting alliances between higher education and the information industry, NERL serves as an advocate for the collective power and influence of academic libraries and their parent institutions.

NERL Develops Preferred Deal Elements for License Negotiations

May 24, 2021

Since releasing NERL’s statement calling for a Better Deal on March 3rd, library colleagues from across the preeminent research institutions comprising NERL have worked to identify the opportunities to advocate for and manifest the five NERL values in consortial negotiations. Those values — Transparency, Sustainability, Equity, Reproducibility, and Flexibility — will be prioritized in our forthcoming deals. The Preferred Deal Elements (PDE) highlighted in the chart below map directly to NERL’s values and will scaffold and support the five major negotiations underway this year, including Elsevier, SpringerNature, Oxford University Press, The Economist/EIU, and CAS. Please note that the Preferred Deal Elements may differ slightly by publisher depending on the type of resources offered. We acknowledge that not all Preferred Deal Elements will be achieved in any single deal. However, we expect that some should be present in most.

We share these deal elements to support the work of other libraries and consortia who are grappling with questions like “What would equity look like in a license agreement?” and we are eager for feedback. We also share them to invite vendors and publishers to expand our collective understanding of what a deal can and should be, arriving together at solutions that serve our shared research communities. As we continue to own and demonstrate NERL’s commitment to transparency, we will share learning and outcomes from our co-creative processes with vendors and publishers. We want to work together– avoiding adversarial framings and entrenched philosophies to succeed together. We believe the Better Deal is possible.

If you are interested in discussing our Preferred Deal Elements, please contact NERL Director Christine Stamison. To download a copy of this blog, please click here. We want to work with vendors and publishers to help develop and deliver subscription agreements that help us all achieve what is most important to all our missions– access to knowledge.


Category Preferred Deal Element NERL Core Value
Fees Discounts to match market standards and real cost Equity
Rational pricing year to year, literal rather than “rebalanced” Sustainability, Transparency, Flexibility
Total spend considerations Sustainability
Simpler cost model Transparency
Term 3 Year Max– the longer the term, the deeper the discount Sustainability
No confidentiality or non-disclosure clause Flexibility, Transparency
Data Privacy Transparency
Accessiblity (current standard) Equity
Commitment to DEI Equity
Opt-In Open to any NERL Core member Sustainability
Open Access: Green: Eliminates NERL Author Embargo Period; Immediate Deposit in Disciplinary Repositories, Institutional Repositories, and Personal Websites Sustainability, Equity
Flip: Flip journals to open where 60%+ authors are NERL Authors Sustainability, Equity
Gold: Full Off-Setting or publisher-tracked discount Sustainability, Equity
Perpetual Access = Open Access Backfile: Flip all backfile content with moving wall to Open Access Sustainability, Flexibility, Equity
Authorized Uses Whole book ILL Sustainability
Text and data-mining Reproducibility
Unrestricted ILL Sustainability
Author Rights First Public Right rather than all copyright Sustainability
Eliminate APC charges Sustainability, Flexibility
Content No loss of content Transparency

Working With NERL

NERL is concerned primarily with licensing online products and the deployment of online products and services. NERL’s primary objective is to obtain the best resources, license terms, and prices possible for our institutions and users.

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