Joint statement on access to e-book and e-textbook content

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SCONUL in conjunction with the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP), the #ebooksSOS campaign, Jisc, the National Acquisitions Group (NAG), Research Libraries UK (RLUK) and the UK purchasing consortia APUC and SUPC are calling for immediate action by publishers and aggregators to introduce more sustainable and affordable pricing models for e-books and e-textbooks. The partners are working together to drive for change in this area.

Economic and technological changes in the current publishing market have led to libraries being increasingly excluded from, or priced out of, providing e-books and e-textbooks for students and library users. Many of the models and fees charged by publishers have either become prohibitively expensive, or libraries are no longer permitted to purchase these titles at all, creating an unsustainable situation.

Providing students and teachers with online-only access to learning content has been a priority during the pandemic, a priority that will continue as colleges and universities offer blended learning and teaching environments.

E-books and e-textbooks are central to learning and teaching, and include key titles set by academic staff that form the basis of lectures, seminar reading, exam revision and essays. As such, there is an expectation from the sector that essential learning and teaching titles are made available for students and library users to borrow without them having to purchase their own copies.

As a central hub for purchasing, discovery, and student and academic liaison, UK libraries are ideally placed to coordinate and purchase e-books and e-textbooks, for the benefit of students across all types of institutions.

As a result, we the undersigned pledge to work collectively to negotiate better terms, work with teaching staff to signpost affordable alternatives, and to influence policy so that students and teachers in UK higher and further education can gain equitable and sustainable access to e-books, e-textbooks, and related teaching content now and into the future.

Furthermore, we will work constructively and actively with publishers and suppliers to ensure affordable and sustainable models that support student and academic needs are put in place and maximise efficiencies across the supply chain.

The position and briefing papers accompanying this statement describe in more detail, how we are advocating for a fairer and more transparent marketplace for learning content to best support institutions in their strategies for learning and teaching in a digital world.


Advanced Procurement for Universities & Colleges (APUC) 
CILIP: The library and information association  
National Acquisitions Group (NAG)  
Procurement bodies including Southern Universities Purchasing Consortium (SUPC)  
Research Libraries UK (RLUK)  
Society of College, National and University Libraries (SCONUL) 

Find out more

For detailed information and specific calls to action, please see the following position and briefing papers published by SCONUL and Jisc:

SCONUL e-book and e-textbook Sustainability Position paper

Jisc briefing for library directors: Publishers and the textbook market in the higher education sector

Jisc briefing for academic staff: Cost, affordability and availability of core reading materials  

WonkHE: Libraries and publishers must make e-books accessible for all