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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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Posted on Apr 8, 2019

Frequently Asked Questions about the Electronic Core Collection (ECC)

Thanks to the advocacy of many partners over the 2018-2019 academic year, the plea for additional funding for the Electronic Core Collection was heard. Thank you to Executive Vice Chancellor, Dr. Loren Blanchard, for allocating an additional $1 million in base funds to this critical resource that benefits all California State University students, staff, and faculty. This case could not have been made without the support of the Statewide Academic Senate and the senates of many CSU campuses, listed below. We still have a way to go, but this goes a long way.


Resolutions in support of the ECC

The Statewide Academic Senate and several CSU campuses — including ChicoEast Bay, FullertonHumboldt, Long BeachLos Angeles, Monterey BayNorthridgeSacramentoSan Bernardino, San JoseSan Luis Obispo (also ASI), and Sonoma — have passed resolutions in support of increased funding for the ECC.


What is included in the ECC?

The ECC currently includes a collection of subscription databases of published content, including scholarly articles, popular news and magazine articles, reference articles, business data, and e-books. See the full list of 2018-19 ECC databases at the bottom of this document.


Who is responsible for the ECC?

The ECC began in 1999 as an initiative of the CSU Council of Library Deans (COLD). It is funded by the CSU Chancellor’s Office, Academic Technology Services Division. Decisions about subscribed content included in the ECC are made by COLD, based on recommendations made by a COLD standing committee, EAR (Electronic Access to Information Resources), whose ten members include two deans, plus librarian representatives from small, medium, and large CSU campuses, each serving two-year terms.


Who can access the ECC?

All CSU students, faculty, and staff have unlimited access.


What is the current budget for the ECC?

$5 million per year, which has stayed flat since 2008. This cost equates to about $10 per CSU student.


What disciplines are covered by the ECC?

The ECC has a range of disciplinary content, including business, humanities, social sciences, law, technology, music, and physical and life sciences. The ECC is weak in STEM content, however, with several core resources missing. For example, the ECC does not include the most recent six years of the journals Science or Nature. Neither does it include the top science journal database, Elsevier’s ScienceDirect or the key resource for chemistry majors and faculty, American Chemical Society Journals.


How is the ECC being used?

This material is used for faculty and student research, creation and completion of course assignments, information literacy instruction, and a variety of other faculty, student, and staff projects. In 2017-18, there were over 17 million full-text downloads from all library databases procured by the CSU Chancellor’s Office, including the ECC.


If a resource is not included in the ECC, how do students and faculty at CSU campuses get access?

In some cases, individual CSU libraries subscribe to core resources not included in the ECC, which may be accessed by just those campus users. In other cases, particularly at smaller or less-resourced campuses, the individual library cannot subscribe to all core, necessary resources. Those students and faculty must rely on interlibrary loan, a slower, more onerous process and limited by copyright restrictions on quantity, or do without. This creates educational opportunity inequities between CSU campuses, and these access gaps have grown over time.


Does the system save money by purchasing content consortially for the ECC rather than individually by campus?

Yes. Savings for system-wide subscriptions vary but buying as a system is almost always less expensive.


How has the ECC been affected by stagnant funding and subsequent erosion of buying power?

With stagnant funding over the last ten years, there has been a loss of approximately $1 million of buying power due to inflation alone. Unfortunately, subscription price increases have exceeded the inflation rate during that time period, so loss of buying power is actually much higher. For example, Elsevier recently claimed its average annual price increases were among the lowest in the industry at 5% per year. Using Elsevier’s estimate as a minimum, loss of ECC buying power in ten years would be a minimum of $3.4 million.

With at least $3.4 million loss of purchasing power, the core collection has had to be modified over time in order to stay within the $5 million budget, pushing the costs of core information resources onto individual campuses, with many campuses losing access altogether. A recent example is the cancellation of LexisNexis Academic Universe—an online service composed of approximately 5000 full text legal, news, reference, and business sources—in 2017. Nineteen campuses were not able to retain subscriptions to LexisNexis.

See the full list of databases that have been cut from the ECC at the bottom of this document.


What’s happening with the ECC budget for 2019-2020?

The ECC is facing more than $600,000 in cuts in 2019-20, as reserves from other budget areas that have been used in past years to cover this overage have been spent down to zero. This underfunding will translate to dropping subscriptions to several core research databases.


What budget increases are needed to make the ECC whole?

Increasing the ECC to $10 million would address losses in purchasing power from ten years of stagnant budgets. Increasing the ECC to $15 million would allow the system to expand access to new types of content not included in the ECC to date, such as streaming media.


What would the CSU libraries do with increased funding?

While decisions about ECC content are made via a shared governance process, there are several options that would serve the entire CSU system. Several core databases and journal collections that the majority of campuses pay for individually could be added. Subscriptions to emerging and in-demand content types could also be added.


What would it cost to make the ECC whole?

For the equivalent of $10 more per student in general funding, the ECC will provide fair and equitable access to core information resources for all CSU students and faculty, and restore access to fundamental resources for science, business, and legal research.


What will happen if we maintain the status quo in the ECC?

Without increased funding, the ECC will continue to shrink, information access inequities will grow across the CSU, and opportunities for system-wide purchasing efficiencies will be lost.


What specific databases are included in the 2018-19 ECC?

  • ABI/Inform (business)
  • Academic Search/Business Source Premier
  • Academic Complete eBooks
  • ACLS (humanities eBooks)
  • America History & Life/Historical Abstracts
  • Biological Abstracts
  • CINAHL Complete (nursing)
  • Communication & Mass Media Complete
  • CQ Researcher
  • Dissertations & Theses Abstracts
  • Ethnic NewsWatch
  • GenderWatch
  • Global Newsstream (regional, national, international news)
  • Grove (Oxford) Music
  • JSTOR (13 collections) (humanities)
  • MathSciNet
  • MLA Intl. Bibliography (humanities)
  • Mergent (business)
  • Oxford English Dictionary
  • Project Muse (humanities)
  • PsycInfo / PsycArticles
  • Safari (technology eBooks)
  • Sociological /Social Services Abstracts
  • Westlaw


What specific material has been cut from the ECC since 2010?

  • Encyclopedia Britannica
  • Factiva (news, business)
  • Grove’s Art
  • Hoovers and Oxford Research (business)
  • Lexis Nexis (legal, news, business)
  • Philosopher’s Index
  • Rand California

In addition, the following databases were previously partially funded via the ECC. In 2013, that funding was eliminated.

  • American Institute of Physics Journals
  • American Chemical Society Web Editions
  • Elsevier Science Direct
  • Springer
  • Wiley Interscience
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Posted on Jun 22, 2017

Resolution in Support of Student Data Privacy

On June 15, 2017, the CSU Council of Library Deans (COLD) adopted a resolution affirming “the crucial importance of privacy in the collection and retention of student data.”  CSU Library Deans will “communicate the importance of student data privacy to library staff and faculty, to students, and to the campus community” and will “encourage the creation of a publicly posted library policy on patron privacy in all CSU libraries, both online and in the physical environment.”

Full text of the resolution.

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