The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) Board of Directors voted in support of a resolution introduced by its Scholarly Communication Steering Committee to strongly encourage ARL member libraries to refrain from signing agreements with publishers or vendors, either individually or through consortia, which include nondisclosure or confidentiality clauses. In addition, the Board encourages ARL members to share upon request from other libraries information contained in these agreements for licensing content, licensing software or other tools, and for digitisation contracts with third-party vendors.
The resolution was prepared in response to the concerns of members that, as the amount of licensed content has increased, especially through packages of publications, nondisclosure or confidentiality clauses have had a negative impact on effective negotiations. The Scholarly Communication Steering Committee took the position that an open market will result in better licensing terms. In their discussions, the committee also noted the value of encouraging research projects and other efforts to gather information about the current market and licensing terms, such as an initiative being undertaken by Ted Bergstrom, University of California, Santa Barbara; Paul Courant, University of Michigan; and Preston McAfee, Cal Tech, to acquire information on bundled site-license contracts.
A panel session on collaboration held later in the Membership Meeting included informal polls of members and the results indicated high levels of agreement and a positive commitment for making this information public when possible.
ARL will be establishing a mechanism by which its members can share information with one another about their agreements.
Regulations, guidelines and other institutional frameworks
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