The University of Texas System has joined the Texas Library Coalition for United Action (TLCUA) to rethink how university libraries collectively can improve access to faculty research and to push for changes to the costly subscription models offered by publishers of academic journals.
A total of 41 institutions in Texas have now joined the Coalition – including the 14 UT institutions – making it the largest and most diverse consortia of its kind and giving it significant negotiating power.
Beyond the high cost of subscriptions, which is becoming unsustainable for many academic institutions, the Coalition is advocating for increased author control of their own scholarship and for university libraries to increase the accessibility of scholarship produced by their own faculty members.
"While we are certainly concerned with ensuring access to scholarly materials and managing the related costs, the UT System's highest commitment is to the quality and stewardship of the research enterprise at the 14 academic and health institutions," said Chancellor James B. Milliken, who together with the presidents of all 14 UT institutions agreed to join the Coalition. "If there was ever a moment to reimagine how we engage with commercial publishers of research, this is it, when COVID-19 has disrupted so many of the traditional and previously unquestioned business and operational models for libraries, research and scholarship."
The Coalition's first order of business is negotiating a mutually beneficial contract with Elsevier, the world's largest publisher of scholarly work, for journals accessed through its ScienceDirect platform. Now that the UT System has joined the Texas Library Coalition, the member institutions collectively represent an annual investment of more than $25 million in the ScienceDirect platform. The UT System accounts for just over $10 million of these subscriptions for 2020, though its total multi-year contract with Elsevier exceeds $50 million.
"We are pleased that the UT System is joining the Coalition, providing us with greater leverage, a stronger community of practice, and more powerful collective impact," said Sara Lowman, vice provost and university librarian at Rice University and chair of the Coalition Steering Committee. "We value the content in Elsevier journals and look forward to working with Elsevier to successfully arrive at a mutually beneficial agreement."
Technology has provided greater opportunities for wider availability of resources, and the Coalition wants those opportunities to be reflected in agreements that will benefit all academic libraries whether public or private, urban or rural, Lowman said.
"By joining the Coalition, we will be stronger voices for our faculty and students," said Rebecca Bichel, dean of libraries at UT Arlington and chair of the UT System Advisory Committee on Library Affairs. "This bold initiative will strengthen advocacy for faculty authors and create a more open environment to share ground-breaking scholarly research not only in Texas but globally, with potential for enormous public benefits."
The current members of the Texas Library Coalition for United Action are:
- Angelo State University
- Baylor University
- Lamar University
- Prairie View A&M University
- Rice University
- Sam Houston State University
- Stephen F. Austin University
- Sul Ross State University
- Tarleton State University
- Texas A&M International University
- Texas A&M University (College Station)
- Texas A&M University-Central Texas
- Texas A&M University-Commerce
- Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
- Texas A&M University-Kingsville
- Texas A&M University-San Antonio
- Texas A&M University-Texarkana
- Texas State University
- Texas Tech University (Lubbock)
- Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso
- Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Lubbock
- The TMC Library
- The University of Texas at Arlington
- The University of Texas at Austin
- The University of Texas at Dallas
- The University of Texas at El Paso
- The University of Texas Permian Basin
- The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
- The University of Texas at San Antonio
- The University of Texas at Tyler
- The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
- The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
- The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
- The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
- The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
- The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler
- West Texas A&M University
- University of Dallas
- University of Houston
- University of Houston Clear Lake
- University of Houston Downtown
About The University of Texas System
For more than 130 years, The University of Texas System has been committed to improving the lives of Texans and people all over the world through education, research and health care. With 14 institutions, an enrollment of nearly 240,000 students and an operating budget of $21.7 billion (FY 2021), the UT System is one of the largest public university systems in the United States. UT institutions produce more than 64,000 graduates annually and award more than one-third of the state's undergraduate degrees and more than half of its health professional degrees. Collectively, UT-owned and affiliated hospitals and clinics accounted for more than 9.2 million outpatient visits and 1.8 million hospital days last year. UT institutions also are among the most innovative in the world, collectively ranking No. 3 for most U.S. patents granted in 2019, and the UT System is No. 1 in Texas and No. 2 in the nation in federal research expenditures. The UT System also is one of the largest employers in Texas, with more than 21,000 faculty – including Nobel laureates and members of the National Academies – and more than 85,000 health care professionals, researchers and support staff.