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Posted on Mar 9, 2020

CSU / Elsevier ScienceDirect Renewal Supports the Future of Research in California

We are pleased to announce that the California State University has finalized a two-year ScienceDirect contract with Elsevier. In this impactful move, the CSU Libraries have agreed to a Read and Publish-Plus agreement with substantial savings, additional content, and a vision that moves the CSU Libraries and Elsevier towards a new model of academic publishing.

This agreement offers excellent content for a fair price, purposefully equalizes access across all 23 campuses, and sets the stage for the CSU faculty to more fully engage in Open Access publishing in ways that make sense for them and their fields of research.

See UC Statement in support of CSU.


The CSU Libraries and Elsevier have come to an agreement that the renewal costs will increase 1.5% for both 2020 and 2021 — a significant reduction from previous years. The final percentages will be lower in light of a subscription rebalancing reduction. The full contract will soon be available at CALUSOURCE, where all California public higher education systems contracts are accessible by authorized users. Additionally, agreements are subject to public disclosure via the CA Public Records Act.

CONTENT: Increased access & equity of access

The 2020/2021 two-year contract increases access two ways:

  • Access to the Complete Collection and Cell Press Collection, our previous standard holdings and Access to the CSU Access Collection (formerly Gratis List) at no additional cost
  • New access to the Freedom Collection at no additional cost


CSU authors will continue to be able to choose the copyright model they prefer. For authors who wish to go Open Access, all Author Publishing Charges (APCs) will be waived in both 2020 and 2021 for CSU corresponding authors. This option is unlimited and does not impact publishing decisions.


The California State University and the University of California are building a partnership in line with the Master Plan for Higher Education in California that affirms the values of both institutions in providing our communities and taxpayers with unfettered access to our academic output. Combined, we are the largest academic system in the U.S. and possibly the world. In the future and when possible, the priorities of affordable access to information and open access will be approached as a state-wide endeavor and may include partnerships with Statewide California Electronic Library Consortium (SCELC), who represents nearly all private academic institutions in California, and other California institutions as well.

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Posted on Jan 2, 2020

Update on California State Libraries negotiations with Elsevier

See Previous Elsevier FAQs


The CSU Libraries are negotiating terms of renewal with the publisher Elsevier, one of the world’s largest scientific, technical, and medical information publishers. These negotiations have carried forward into 2020.

The CSU contract expired on December 31, 2019. As we continue our negotiations in good faith, we do not expect any change in access. The CSU Libraries understand the importance of this journal package to our researchers and students.

These negotiations are more involved than in previous years because the CSU Libraries, like most of our academic library peers, are looking to negotiate lower-cost and transformative agreements with journal publishers. Our goal is to help make public research more accessible to the taxpayers who make it possible.

As we continue conversations about scholarly publications & creative activities and the many formats these practices can take, we reaffirm that faculty have full ownership over how they choose to publish.

  • At no point will any library contract require an author to agree to an Open Access contract or to pay an Author (or Article) Publishing Charges
  • Libraries support authors’ research and scholarship and will not dictate where an author can publish or in what format.

Should you have any questions, please contact your local University Library Dean

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Posted on Dec 2, 2019

California State University Libraries to change the display of the subject heading “Illegal Aliens” in joint public catalog

The California State University library faculty and staff agree with a resolution adopted in 2016 by the Library of Congress, which states that “the terms ‘illegal’ and ‘alien,’ when used in reference to people, have undergone pejoration and acquired derogatory connotations, becoming increasingly associated with nativist and racist sentiments.” As such, they are no longer appropriate for unbiased library cataloging that respects and reflects our diverse society.

Therefore, in the Unified Library Management System (ULMS) shared by the CSU Libraries, all instances of the subject heading “aliens” will be remapped to display “noncitizens,” and the subject heading “illegal aliens” will be remapped to display “undocumented immigrants.” The older terms will continue to be searchable, but the new terms will be used in all public records. This change will go into effect in January 2020.


In 2016, in response to requests from a student group and university librarians at Dartmouth College and the American Library Association (ALA), the Library of Congress (LC) decided to revise and update the subject heading “Illegal aliens.” It is not uncommon for biased subject headings to be reformed, in line with changing social norms and language use. The Association for Library Collections & Technical Services, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), recommended “Noncitizens” and “Undocumented immigrants” as alternative subjects to “Aliens” and “Illegal aliens.” In response, for the first time ever, the House of Representatives objected to a decision regarding subject headings and ordered LC to continue using the term “Illegal aliens.”

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Posted on Oct 15, 2019

Elsevier FAQs

The situation: It is time for the California State University Libraries to renew their contract with Elsevier, one of the world’s largest scientific, technical, and medical information publishers. Elsevier provides libraries with bundles of online journal subscriptions via its ScienceDirect platform.

CSU’s Elsevier subscription (a bundled package known in the industry as a Big Deal) is purchased through the Chancellor’s Office (CO). The subscription package includes 1,441 current journal titles of the 3,412 that Elsevier markets. Additionally, to support local needs, some libraries supplement this Big Deal with additional subscriptions to Elsevier journals not included in the CO Bundle.

Do CSU faculty and researchers use all the titles in the CSU subscription?

No. Most CSU campuses have downloaded zero articles from many Elsevier journals. The majority of CSU campus users download articles that we purchased in prior years. Fewer than 25% of downloads are from current materials. A good analogy is cable television where subscribers pay for channels they never watch.

Why is this a problem?

Like other publishing platforms, Elsevier has built a business model underwritten by publicly-funded research, faculty scholarship, faculty peer review, and faculty editorial board management. Elsevier then charges libraries annual or multiyear subscription fees to buy access to journals that exist only because of the public research funding and faculty work effort. This business model has rewarded Elsevier with a profit margin reported at 36% — higher than Apple, Google, or Amazon reported for the same year.

This profit margin has been sustained by the steady increase in subscription rates charged to academic libraries. According to the American Library Association, “Rapidly rising journal subscription prices have severely eroded the ability of libraries, universities, and scholars to purchase the publications necessary for research and education. While the Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased 73% between 1986-2004, research library expenditures for serials increased 273%. Since then, annual price index reports by the trade magazine Library Journal document the continued inexorable increase in serials costs, almost always in excess of the CPI.”The relentless rise in subscription costs for Elsevier and other online journal bundles has serious ramifications. The escalating costs mean that over time, CSU libraries have purchased fewer titles, greatly hampering the ability of the libraries to support emerging fields and inhibiting a diverse representation of ideas and research. Less access to research is bad for science. For more insight into the current landscape of academic publishing, see the free documentary, Paywall: The Business of Scholarship.

How much does Elsevier charge CSU libraries for their subscriptions?

In 2019, Elsevier charged the CSU system $3,949,602 for its subscription to current journals in ScienceDirect, a 4.25% increase over the previous year. Elsevier subscription costs are shared among the CSU libraries and comprise a significant portion of the annual acquisitions budget for every library in the system.

Do CSU faculty publish with Elsevier?

Yes. According to ScienceDirect, CSU authors published 8,680 articles in Elsevier journals from 2010 to 2019.

Are CSU authors charged a fee for publishing Open Access articles in Elsevier journals?

Some faculty want the articles they write to be available for free, that is via open access, instead of behind a subscription paywall. To make an article available via open access, Elsevier imposes an Article Publishing Charge (APC) of approximately $3,000 (depending on the journal) on authors. Under the APC model, Elsevier profits, in effect, twice from publicly-supported educational institutions by (1) charging for subscriptions which limit access to these journals to subscribers and (2) imposing APCs that authors or other funders pay if they seek to make their research publicly available.

In 2018, CSU authors published approximately 1,100 articles in Elsevier journals. Only a small number of these articles were published as open access. Collectively, it would have cost the CSU system approximately $3.3 million to make all of the Elsevier articles published by CSU authors freely available to all readers—even though, in many cases, the articles were funded by public research grants and written and edited by faculty at publicly-supported universities. These APC costs would have been on top of annual subscription fees paid by the CSU for access to ScienceDirect.

What can we do about this?

We can use the collective power of the CSU system to negotiate a better deal for our faculty and students. The University of California libraries were able to take a strong negotiating position with Elsevier because the UC Faculty supported their libraries. If the CSU Faculty likewise support the possibility that the CSU Libraries could walk away from the Elsevier contract, we are then in a strong negotiating position with Elsevier. We can push Elsevier hard for a transformative agreement that reduces subscription costs, limits annual price increases, and moves toward a model that allows CSU authors to make their work more widely available in open access.

What can YOU do about this?

Are you willing to support the CSU Libraries? This may mean the CSU Libraries will refuse to pay subscription costs for overpriced journals and databases until we can come to a more conducive agreement. The UCs ended their negotiations with Elsevier. In the aftermath, the UC libraries successfully negotiated a transformative, open-access, agreement with Cambridge University Press in which the universities will see no significant overall increase to the cost of its contract. In the Cambridge agreement, UC faculty retain their copyright, and UC faculty will have the option of publishing their articles open access with APCs subsidized either by faculty from their grant funding or by the UC libraries.

The impact of the CSU walking away from renewing with Elsevier would be largely limited to losing access to future publishing. Because the CSUs paid for “perpetual rights” in previous contracts, we retain perpetual access to most of the Elsevier articles to which we had access under those contracts. CSU faculty, students, and staff still have access and can download those articles.

We have the potential to change the power dynamics, to give faculty rights to what they have authored, and to ensure that taxpayers and citizens all over the world have access to scholarly research. All we ask is that our faculty support us as we begin an honest and difficult conversation with a company that cares more about its bottom line than it does about making knowledge open and available to all.

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Posted on May 7, 2019

The California State University’s Council of Library Deans supports the University of California’s push for open access to publicly funded research

As the nation’s largest four-year public university system, the California State University’s (CSU) Council of Library Deans stand in full support of the University of California (UC) in their decision to not renew its subscriptions with Elsevier after protracted negotiations.

The UC’s firm stand is one that serves scholars of the world, including the citizens of the great State of California. The California Master Plan for Higher Education “created a system that combined exceptional quality with broad access for students.” In today’s world of diversity, inclusion, and equity, the idea that research and scholarship written by UC and CSU faculty and funded by taxpayers is not accessible across all educational systems and to all citizens is a travesty.

In a few months, the CSUs will begin negotiations with Elsevier, the world’s largest and most profitable scientific publisher, as our Elsevier Science Direct subscription is up for renewal in December 2019. We expect a repeat of past practices: another price increase that exceeds inflation and state budget allocations and student tuition and fee payments.

We are continuing conversations with our administrators, faculty, and students as to the true costs of academic publishing and research. We are educating our campuses on open access options and other ways in which we can ensure that our scholarship is open and accessible. We also hope to find a shared path forward, in partnership with Elsevier.

We are thankful to our UC colleagues and to many others who have added their voices to exposing unsustainable academic publishing practices, in which for-profit companies package and sell the intellectual output of our university professors and researchers.




Curtis M. Asher
Dean of Libraries
California State University, Bakersfield

Emily Miller Bonney
Dean, Pollak Library
California State University, Fullerton

Stephanie Brasley
Dean, University Library
California State University, Dominguez Hills

Cesar Caballero
Dean & University Librarian
California State University, San Bernardino

Tracy Elliott
Dean, University Library
San Jose State University

Jennifer L. Fabbi
Dean, University Library
California State University, San Marcos

Emma C. Gibson
Interim Dean, University Library
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

Del Hornbuckle
Dean of Library Services
California State University, Fresno

Amy Kautzman
Dean & Director, University Library
California State University, Sacramento

Roman Kochan
Dean & Director of the Library
California State University, Long Beach

Deborah C. Masters
University Librarian
San Francisco State University

Patrick McCarthy
Interim Dean
San Diego State University

Patrick Newell
Dean, Meriam Library
California State University, Chico

Cyril Oberlander
University Library Dean
Humboldt State University

Adriana Popescu
Dean of Library Services
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

Juan Carlos Rodriguez
Dean, University Library
California State University, Los Angeles

Ronald Rodriguez
Dean of Library Services
California State University, Stanislaus

Karen G. Schneider
Dean of the Library
Sonoma State University

Mark Stover
Dean, University Library
California State University, Northridge

Michele Van Hoeck
Dean of the Library
California State University Maritime Academy

Alicia Virtue
Incoming Dean, John Spoor Broome Library
California State University, Channel Islands

John Wenzler
Dean of Libraries
California State University, East Bay

Frank M. Wojcik
Library Dean
California State University, Monterey Bay

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