Magazine article American Libraries

SPARC-Alternatives to High-Cost Journals

Magazine article American Libraries

SPARC-Alternatives to High-Cost Journals

Article excerpt

During the last few years university presidents, provosts, and faculty have come to realize what academic librarians have known for some time: The current model for scholarly communication is no longer sustainable. Between 1986 and 1996, the cost of scientific, technical, and medical journals increased a whopping 148%-more than three times the rate of inflation and nearly twice the rate of growth in health-care costs.

In more concrete terms: The 122 member institutions of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) have, since 1986, spent 124% more on serials to purchase 7% fewer titles. Commercial publishers tend to raise their prices with impunity, knowing that universities provide a captive audience! A significant portion of this dramatic increase is attributable to the reduced number of commercial sci-tech and medical publishers, many of which are based in Europe.

Knowing that it takes a spark to start a fire, the ARL formally launched SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, in June 1998. Although still in its' infancy, SPARC membership includes 175 libraries, consortia, and affiliates.

The SPARC mission is to create partnerships with publishers who are developing high-quality, economical alternatives to existing high-price publications. In return for offering library-friendly pricing and policies, partners receive endorsement and marketing support. Most members subscribe to SPARC-endorsed journals (known as SPARC Alternatives) that are in scope for their collections. …

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