Following the disappointing response from the Education Select Committee yesterday, we have been considering our next move. While it is fantastic that we have succeeded in raising awareness of the issue in Westminster, we are still in the position of not being able to buy key text books for our students during an ongoing global health crisis. The approaching holiday season is going to make the situation even more critical as students will not be able to access physical library resources. They will have assignments to complete over Christmas without the resources to support them. This is not acceptable.

What are we going to do?

We are going to take our case to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) as publishers are “behaving unfairly during the Covid outbreak” It can also be strongly argued that several of these charges listed here can be applied to the academic publishing market. Throughout the campaign thus far, we have collected a lot of data to support our position and we intend to persist in holding publishers to account.

What can you do?

  • This started as a grass-roots campaign but we really need support from sector leaders. Following the media attention generated by the campaign, we have heard that library teams are being contacted by Pro-VCs and VCs to find out more about the issues with ebooks and how they can help. Academics and Librarians, please consider contacting your institution’s leadership team and ask them to support our campaign, raise the issue with the local MP and lobby Universities UK, “the collective voice of 140 universities in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland” to support and raise the issue with the UK Government whenever possible.
  • Librarians should consider advising academics to pull unavailable or prohibitively expensive titles from their reading lists and to tell the publishers why they have done so.
  • Library Services should ask that the authors in their institutions contact their librarians to find out what their books are being sold to universities for and, if excessive, complain to the relevant publishers.
  • Library Directors should consider writing and publishing a position policy such as the “Lobbying for Fairer Ebook Access” document written by Dr Clare McCluskey Dean for York St John University. We need to be clear that we will not purchase from publishers who have exploitative practices.
  • We know money is tight right now but we would also urge conference and event organisers to refuse sponsorship from exploitative publishers. We should also not allow them to advertise/market on campus

Everyone, please also consider contacting your MP and your library leadership teams.

Please feel free to comment below with further suggestions,

The open letter can still be read and signed here

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