Electronic publishing shock ahead

April 3, 1998

More than 5,000 university libraries worldwide have united to warn that the cost of electronic access to information could jump by 40 per cent over that for print subscriptions within three years.

The International Coalition of Libraries Consortia says the price rise is looming because of an explosion in electronic licensing, variation in publisher practices and monopolisation in the publishing of scholarly journals.

In a statement last week, the coalition complains that publishers are levying surcharges on electronic information and penalising libraries which cancel print versions of journal titles. It says publishers and libraries must develop alternative models for licensing and purchasing of electronic information. Libraries should not have to bear all publishers' costs for commercial electronic development of features and systems.

The statement says it wants to reach an amicable arrangement with publishers on electronic journal pricing and licensing policy. Countries represented by the coalition include Australia, Canada, Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States. Britain's Standing Conference on University Libraries and the Consortium of University Research Libraries are members.

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