NERL Develops Preferred Deal Elements for License Negotiations

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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

NERL Issues a Statement Demanding a Better Deal

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Chicago, March 3, 2021

The NERL Consortium issued a statement, “NERL Demands a Better Deal,” articulating the values NERL will adopt in negotiating agreements with publishers. The statement, which originated in the NERL Program Council and which has generated broad support across the NERL community, outlines the following core values in service to an open, equitable, and healthy academic publishing ecosystem:

  • Transparency: NERL commits to transparency of the negotiating process and will share details of discussions, outcomes, and cost whenever possible to demonstrate leadership for academic libraries. We commit to demanding transparency from our vendor partners and will prioritize vendor partners who honor this commitment.
  • Sustainability: NERL negotiates for terms that ensure greater sustainability, pursuing opportunities to support collective infrastructure and collective ownership. We prioritize agreements that move past historical pricing models and precedent. We encourage smarter, better, and often smaller deals that do not increase cost with unrequested content while providing clear and transparent pricing models.
  • Equity: NERL negotiates for terms that support the rights of all researchers to participate in the scholarly communications ecosystem as knowledge creators; to do so requires partnership between libraries and publishers to eliminate barriers. We work to ensure that costs to researchers and institutions are aligned with the costs of publishing, so everyone has access to open access publishing.
  •  Reproducibility: NERL agreements uphold Author’s Rights, ensuring no forced copyright transfer from author to publisher, computational rights for researchers to use articles in text mining or other practices, and the right to deposit articles in institutional repositories.
  • Flexibility: We will encourage and prioritize NERL Agreements that incentivize emerging, efficient, and sustainable business models. We seek meaningful and creative alternatives that support the dissemination and preservation of the scholarly record.

The full statement can be read here.

 About the NERL Consortium

The NERL Consortium consists of a core group of 30 of the most research-intensive institutions in North America. It is a national leader in negotiated licensing whose mission is to serve as an advocate for the collective power and influence of libraries and their parent institutions. NERL is based at the Center for Research Libraries (CRL) in Chicago.

The NERL Executive Board Approves Support for the MIT Framework for Publisher Contracts

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Chicago, January 21, 2020 – The Executive Board of the NERL Consortium (The Board) approved support for the MIT Framework for Publisher Contracts. At the forefront of this framework is the belief that authors should retain copyright with generous reuse rights and the ability to immediately place scholarly articles in institutional repositories.

The NERL Board strongly supports the open and equitable dissemination of scholarly research output and believes that this framework is a pivotal step in this direction.

The six (6) key principles in the framework are:

  1. No author will be required to waive any institutional or funder open access policy to publish in any of the publisher’s journals.
  2. No author will be required to relinquish copyright, but instead will be provided with options that enable publication while also providing authors with generous reuse rights.
  3. Publishers will directly deposit scholarly articles in institutional repositories immediately upon publication or will provide tools/mechanisms that facilitate immediate deposit.
  4. Publishers will provide computational access to subscribed content as a standard part of all contracts, with no restrictions on non-consumptive, computational analysis of the corpus of subscribed content.
  5. Publishers will ensure the long-term digital preservation and accessibility of their content through participation in trusted digital archives.
  6. Institutions will pay a fair and sustainable price to publishers for value-added services, based on transparent and cost-based pricing models.

Winston Tabb, Chair of the NERL Board and Dean of the Johns Hopkins University Libraries, comments, “NERL is happy to support MIT’s principled and forward-looking stand, which is driven by our libraries’ commitment to  make research widely available for the benefit of mankind.”

Chris Bourg, Director of the MIT Libraries, says, “We are thankful for the support of the NERL Board, which recognizes that scholarship is most beneficial to humanity when it is freely and immediately available to the entire world. We’re proud to stand together with them as we both work toward creating equitable environments for scholarship and discovery.”



About the NERL Consortium

The NERL Consortium consists of a core group of 30 the most research intensive institutions in North America. It is a national leader in negotiated licensing whose mission is to serve as an advocate for the collective power and influence of libraries and their parent institutions. NERL is based at the Center for Research Libraries (CRL) in Chicago.


About MIT Libraries
The MIT Libraries advance knowledge at MIT and beyond by providing a trusted foundation for the generation, dissemination, use, creative engagement with, and preservation of information. The Libraries envision a world where enduring, abundant, equitable, and meaningful access to knowledge serves to empower and inspire humanity.


MIT Announces Framework to Guide Negotiations with Publishers

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The MIT Libraries, together with the MIT Committee on the Library System and the Ad Hoc Task Force on Open Access to MIT’s Research, announced that it has developed a principle-based framework to guide negotiations with scholarly publishers. The framework emerges directly from the core principles for open science and open scholarship articulated in the recommendations of the Task Force on Open Access to MIT’s Research, which released its final report to the MIT community on Oct. 17.


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New York-based Columbia University has accused a company established by late historian Ehsan Yarshater of falsely claiming to be the copyright owner of the Encyclopedia Iranica, a scholarly resource on Persian and Iranian history.

The lawsuit, filed on Friday, August 9 at the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, alleged that Encyclopedia Iranica Foundation (EIF), a company set up in 1990, had also claimed to be the exclusive owner of trademark rights in the name of the work and a logo.

Read more:


Welcome to the new NERL website!

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Welcome to the new NERL website! Since its inception in 1996 NERL has seen tremendous growth both in its membership and in the number of resources licensed.  What started as a consortium of 12 core members negotiating for few resources has grown to a consortium of 30 core members in negotiation with scores of resource providers. To reflect this growth NERL is rebranding with a new logo, and a renewed mission and vision. Why the change? At its inception all members of the NorthEast Research Libraries Consortium were, of course, in the North Eastern United States. Throughout the years institutions such as Stanford University, University of Notre Dame, Duke University, University of Miami and Vanderbilt University joined the consortium as core members. As such, the term “NorthEast” no longer correctly describes the consortium. Just as many other organizations have done – think of OCLC, JISC and NASIG- we to have gone to only an acronym – NERL.

The new NERL logo, which can be found on the upper left hand corner of the website, reflects the rebranding. The circling of the R and L now represent our focus on research libraries (and no longer on the NorthEast), and the nodes in the circle represent connections to each other and electronic resources. Along with the rebranding comes a new mission and vison:

Mission Statement: 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.

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

With the changes in the scholarly communication ecosystem and the momentum within NERL it was time for the core membership to decide how it would see its mission and vision evolving over the next few years.

In that vein our core membership held a full day meeting in June of 2018 facilitated by Brian Schottlaender of re:work library consulting. The result was a document with a wealth of ideas, and new mission and vision statements. Throughout the day, we identified topics that required further engagement from the membership and establish committees to tackle these issues. The topics requiring more input were: improving communication inside and outside the organization, more effective means of negotiations, and deciding on whether NERL should pursue new types of resources. In the near future NERL will also be crafting its approach to open access and will be solidifying ways to work more closely with CRL in negotiating primary source materials.

Every few months you will see a new blog post from a NERL core member here on the landing page and a featured core member on the “Members” page. Featured as our first “Member Spotlight” is Joan Emmet from Yale University. Joan has played an integral part in NERL and we would like to shine a spotlight on her accomplishments.

Our momentum is stronger than ever and we have a lot to say about the changing nature of the scholarly world. Please stayed tuned in to our new site.

Gregory Eow Named New CRL President

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Gregory Eow, currently Associate Director for Collections, MIT Libraries, will succeed Bernard Reilly as president of the Center for Research Libraries, effective August 12, 2019. The appointment was announced by Virginia Steel, Norman and Armena Powell University Librarian, University of California, Los Angeles and Chair of CRL’s Board of Directors. Speaking on behalf of the board Ms. Steel said, “We are delighted that Greg Eow will become the next president of CRL. He brings deep knowledge of research libraries and collections and many ideas about ways CRL can evolve in the coming years to maintain its centrality as a key part of the research library landscape.”

For more information go to:

Rutgers Libraries Welcome Jeff Carroll as Assistant Vice President for Scholarly Communication and Collections

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Rutgers University Libraries are delighted to welcome Jeff Carroll as assistant vice president for scholarly communication and collections, effective July 15, 2019.

In this role, Carroll will provide leadership, strategic direction, and support for the Libraries’ scholarly communication and collections infrastructure, ensuring that our resources and services advance the unique missions of Rutgers–Camden, Rutgers–Newark, Rutgers–New Brunswick, and Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences.

To read more please go to:

University of California Cancels its Subscriptions to Elsevier Content

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As a leader in the global movement toward open access to publicly funded research, the University of California is taking a firm stand by deciding not to renew its subscriptions with Elsevier. Despite months of contract negotiations, Elsevier was unwilling to meet UC’s key goal: securing universal open access to UC research while containing the rapidly escalating costs associated with for-profit journals.

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Harvard Library and MIT Libraries provide recommendations for Plan S implementation

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Harvard Library and the MIT Libraries are committed to fostering a scholarly communications environment which advances the values of openness, equitable access, transparency, responsible stewardship, and flexible reuse. Aligned with these commitments, we are in broad support of Plan S and its goals to ensure that publicly funded research is made openly available to a global audience. We applaud the clear, unmistakable intention behind Plan S: to provide strong, meaningful incentives to make new research open access.

To read more please go to: