The Northeast Research Libraries Consortium (NERL) was formed in July 1996 for the dual purpose of jointly licensing electronic resources to obtain more favorable terms and to work on matters of access and archiving these materials. Ann Okerson, Associate University Librarian, Collection Development and Management, at Yale University led the effort to bring together twelve core member institutions, each with a designated representative, and served as the NERL coordinator. Initially, Britannica Online and Academic Press's IDEAL were licensed jointly by the group. Affiliate institutions from within the region joined these licenses for a small administrative fee as they continue to do today. As additional resources were explored, representatives from each member institution undertook licensing efforts and negotiations while billing and many payments were handled centrally by Yale University Library and services.
Yale University served as the legal and physical home of the consortium from 1996-March 2013. As of April 1, 2013, NERL began operating under the auspices of the Center for Research Libraries in Chicago, IL. NERL is unique in offering its members flexibility both in deciding whether to participate in consortial licenses and in a number of cases, selecting the payee when resources are invoiced by NERL, the publisher, vendor, or agent. NERL and its staff are renewed at the discretion of members on a three year term allowing the membership to assess its desire to continue the consortium’s work.
NERL's mission today continues in support of its original goals by promoting, supporting, and advancing of the course of higher education and research through the cooperative licensing of scholarly electronic works. The consortium seeks to maximize the effectiveness for license and purchase of such resources which support the missions of its individual member libraries and their parent institutions. The consortium acts as advocate for its member institutions to ensure cost-effective pricing and terms and conditions of use which allow for the broadest possible dissemination of scholarly material to its member users. NERL additionally provides a convenient forum for collegial collaboration and professional exchange of ideas