ACRL, ARL, Oberlin Group of Libraries Urge Library Vendors to Continue Free Access, Hold Subscription Prices Steady During COVID-19 Pandemic

The academic library community appreciates the ways that library vendors and service providers have made electronic resources freely and openly available to support the acute global response to COVID-19 and our students’ and faculty members’ necessary and unanticipated shift to temporarily remote teaching, learning, and research. We urge all library resource and service providers to continue to offer free and open access to as many scholarly resources as possible; to offer subscription renewals with no price increases; and to continue to work with the library community to minimize the impact of the current crisis on our communities, including the significant inequities in access to resources that have been highlighted by the shift to remote work. 

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact communities across the world, and colleges and universities are facing disruptions through the upcoming academic year, as well as financial effects of the pandemic that will last into the next several years. Academic institutions and their libraries are planning for the unknown. Most of us with summer sessions will be online through the summer for academic programs. Most are uncertain as yet about what form the fall semester will take—whether classes are held in person to some extent or fully online, there will definitely be students attending remotely and faculty working remotely. We anticipate a possible resurgence of the virus in the winter and spring if it follows similar paths to other known viruses. Remote access to research and scholarly content will remain critical for those in our communities, especially those working to develop responses and solutions to the effects of the pandemic.

All institutions are facing significant pandemic-related financial challenges. Colleges and universities have already incurred large unbudgeted expenditures this spring and summer to maintain support for their students at the same time that COVID-19 has diminished the main revenue streams for higher education. Enrollment levels for the upcoming academic year are uncertain as students and their families cope with the pandemic, and financial aid needs will be much more significant for our student bodies. For institutions with endowments, market declines and volatility mean that fewer dollars are available for the institutional operating budget. In this crisis, institutions need to recuperate pandemic costs by cutting budgets in ways that will affect our academic library budgets. 

The vendor and service provider community can show its commitment to libraries and education by continuing to provide free access to e-resources and by holding off on any price increases during the COVID-19 pandemic. Beyond the duration of the crisis, we are eager to work toward equitable and sustainable models for the future.

About the Association of College & Research Libraries

The Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) is the higher education association for academic libraries and library workers. Representing nearly 10,000 individuals and libraries, ACRL (a division of the American Library Association) develops programs, products, and services to help those working in academic and research libraries learn, innovate, and lead within the academic community. Founded in 1940, ACRL is committed to advancing learning, transforming scholarship, and creating diverse and inclusive communities. Find ACRL on the web, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

About the Association of Research Libraries

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 124 research libraries in Canada and the US whose mission is to advance research, learning, and scholarly communication. The Association fosters the open exchange of ideas and expertise, promotes equity and diversity, and pursues advocacy and public policy efforts that reflect the values of the library, scholarly, and higher education communities. ARL forges partnerships and catalyzes the collective efforts of research libraries to enable knowledge creation and to achieve enduring and barrier-free access to information. ARL is on the web at ARL.org.

About The Oberlin Group of Libraries

The Oberlin Group is a consortium of libraries at 80 leading liberal arts colleges in the United States. Its mission is to advocate for the role of libraries in transforming teaching, learning, and research, and anticipate and address evolving challenges and opportunities in support of liberal arts institutions. For more information, visit https://www.oberlingroup.org/.