Frequently Asked Questions about Collections

Why can’t the Libraries get all the resources that researchers need?

No university library owns them all. Currently R1 libraries, including the University of Houston, are facing constrained budget scenarios. For example, Penn State, Purdue, and University of Iowa are taking action in response to rising costs.

Some publishers do not make materials available for purchase by libraries at all. For example, not all ebooks or streaming media are available through library vendors. When they are available, vendors may limit licenses to one user at a time.

Why does it cost so much more than I expected for the Libraries to purchase what I want?  

Pricing for library access to research materials is much more expensive than for individuals.

When we buy online access to research materials, we’re buying access for the entire campus. Many resources are priced based on the number of students enrolled. We negotiate licensing agreements and pricing for course use, copyright clearance, and more. This is more cost effective for the University than purchasing multiple copies of titles for individual faculty members or departments.

One additional challenge: some materials are not made available for library access at all and are only priced for individual purchase.

Why do publishers typically charge annual price increases of 5-7%?

For-profit publishers dominate scholarly publishing, allowing them to dictate costs and how libraries purchase access. The big three are Elsevier, SpringerNature and Wiley. Since journals are unique, this is not a market with competition.

Overall, this means that the power at the negotiating table has been weighted heavily towards publishers. 

How can I access what I need if the Libraries does not subscribe to a specific journal?

There are several ways to get articles and research materials that we don’t have.

Here are some options you may explore to gain access:

  1. Install browser plug-ins like Open Access Button, Unpaywall, and Kopernio which will point you to available versions of articles you find online
  2. Find preprints and other freely available versions on sites like ResearchGate, SSRN, and discipline-specific preprint servers
  3. Request articles through interlibrary loan
  4. Send a request to the corresponding author – many authors are open to receiving requests for articles via social networking sites or their personal website