Sonoma State University Statement: Wiley Journals

As your new Dean of the Library, I have an interesting crisis to herald my arrival.

I understand that preliminary details of the Wiley subscription cancellation decision have been shared on the Senate list. As you may know, the Library subscribes to over 1,300 academic journals published by John Wiley through a “big deal” package agreement negotiated by the Chancellor’s Office, a package subscribed to by nearly all CSU campuses. After extensive negotiations over several months, in mid-December the CSU reluctantly decided against renewing the contract with Wiley due to the unmanageable proposed cost increase of 10-12% (depending on the campus). SSU’s access to the Wiley package will end on January 31, 2015.

This decision did not come lightly, and follows years–in some cases, decades–of spiraling costs for journal subscriptions markedly disproportionate to price increases elsewhere in the economy, a crisis in scholarly communication that has been eroding the ability of university libraries to support student learning and faculty research, and compromises our Library’s ability to maintain a collection commensurate with the requirements of an excellent public university.

Please rest assured that SSU researchers will continue to have access to journal content. In anticipation of the cancellation decision, our librarians have been proactively evaluating journal usage data and preparing to subscribe to high-use journals on a title-by-title basis. Also, many Wiley journals are already available through many of our databases we subscribe to with a one-year embargo. Articles from low- and no-use journals (which as with most “big deal” packages, comprise roughly 80 percent of the Wiley titles) will continue to be supported through interlibrary loan requests. The remaining 55,000-plus journal titles the Library subscribes to are unaffected by this decision. SSU has the option of negotiating individually with Wiley for a journal package similar to the one we had through CSU, and we will evaluate that option as well.

As your library dean, I fully understand and concur with the CSU’s actions, and know in my heart that if I had been on board when this decision was made, I would have advocated for it (however awkward a calling card it may be). The CSU campuses are in an excellent position to stand toe-to-toe with these vendors and insist on reasonable and fair pricing–and if we do not, every year CSU’s libraries will continue to reduce collection strength in order to meet the next price hike. Other library systems such as UC and Harvard have pushed back with other publishers, with good results. In the short and long run, the Wiley cancellation decision, difficult as it may be, is necessary stewardship.

For more information on the CSU decision, see: 

Please feel free to share your questions and concerns about the Wiley cancellation decision. We are listening.


Karen G. Schneider
Dean of the Library
Sonoma State University

Sonoma State University Library at the Jean and Charles Schulz Information Center, 1801 East Cotati Avenue, Rohnert Park, CA 94928

Message sent January 15, 2015