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A Call to Action

Claiming that pricing for the American Chemical Society's online journal package is "unsustainable for small institutions," SUNY Potsdam has decided to end its subscription to the ACS package for 2013.

In a "call to action" for institutional librarians, Jenica Rogers, director of libraries for SUNY Potsdam, writes that the library canceled its subscription because "we were unable to find common ground with the sales team from the ACS."

Instead of the package — which Rogers said would eat up 10 percent of SUNY Potsdam's entire acquisition budget for 2013 — the library has decided to use a combination of content from the Royal Society of Chemistry, ACS single title subs, the ACS backfile, and ScienceDirect from Elsevier (though she adds in a footnote that, like many other academic libraries, she is "displeased" with Elsevier's pricing practices as well).

Rogers tells her colleagues that they could also cancel their ACS package subscriptions, "and maybe together we can make enough choices to make our voices heard in meaningful ways."

The library blog Gavia Libraria commends SUNY Potsdam for having "thrown the gauntlet" in protest against ACS, which it describes as "an outfit so openly and contemptuously corrupt that it sees no difficulty whatever with making subscribing to its journals a condition of chemistry-department accreditation."

Indeed, ACS is the accreditation body for university chemistry programs, and the society recommends a list of journals that a chemistry program must have access to in order to be accredited. However, there is some debate among the commenters on the SUNY Potsdam blog and elsewhere regarding the extent of the society's potential conflict of interest here. As librarian Christina Pikas notes in her blog, "ACS has long held that the journals — with the exception of a journal on chemical education — do not have to be ACS journals."

HT: In the Pipeline

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