Texas Tech University

Library Collaboration Reaches Historic Deal, Saving Texas Universities Millions

Glenys Young

November 30, 2022


Texas Tech University is a member of the Texas Library Coalition for United Action.

What could Texas universities do with millions of dollars they weren't expecting to have? Thanks to a group of faculty members and librarians across the state, administrators may want to start considering that question.

In 2019, 44 public and private universities across Texas joined together to form the Texas Library Coalition for United Action (TLCUA) to think creatively about access to faculty publications and the sustainability of journal subscriptions. The group announced today (Nov. 30) that it has concluded negotiations with Elsevier, the world's largest publisher of scientific journals, and all TLCUA member institutions have new agreements for subscription journal access. 

Elsevier publishes more than 2,500 journals covering topics in medicine, biology, psychology, engineering, business and more. The TLCUA effort aligns with other libraries across academia that have sought to evolve the relationship between libraries and publishers and find new ways to thrive together. 

As a result of the negotiations, all TLCUA members received a discount on journal subscriptions – some as high as 30% – while still maintaining significant access to journals. Combined, this means a savings of more than $4.5 million annually. Beyond initial cost savings, Elsevier agreed to cap its annual cost increase at 2% over the course of the license agreement, with some years as low as 0%, which is significantly lower than the industry standard. 

“While working through the TLCUA has saved Texas Tech and other universities significant dollars, it also builds a framework for further collaboration and connections for university libraries in the state,” said Texas Tech University Provost Ron Hendrick.

TLCUA had ambitious goals to negotiate sustainable pricing for strained library budgets in higher education, but it also made progress on its other goals of improving access to scholarship and providing authors with greater control over their published work over time. 

The coalition and Elsevier have agreed to partner on a pilot project to revert ownership of journal articles back to their original authors – and not just those at TLCUA member institutions. Currently, authors transfer the copyright of their work in exchange for that work being published. This pilot project will provide for rights to return to authors after a period of time collaboratively determined with Elsevier. A subset of Elsevier journals will be chosen to study the impact of the copyright reversion pilot for authors and its applicability more broadly to scientific, technical, engineering and medical publishers.

Further, all authors at TLCUA member institutions who choose to publish their work under an open-access license will have access to discounted author publication charges. TLCUA also negotiated a license template that removed non-disclosure terms, restrictions on sharing usage data and 44-year-old limitations on interlibrary loans to expand library collaboration and improve how libraries can share information on journal usage.

“We worked very hard with Elsevier leadership and negotiators to come to an agreement that aligns the values and priorities of our members and those held by Elsevier,” said lead negotiator and open access advocate Jeffrey Spies of 221B Consulting. “I am particularly excited about the copyright pilot project. Copyright is an often-overlooked ingredient in securing a more open scholarship, and the library community has a real opportunity here: to work with authors to share their work openly because it will once again be their work.”

Along with Spies, the team negotiating with Elsevier consisted of faculty, library leaders and librarians with collections expertise representing the diverse membership of TLCUA. Among the group were Asheley Landrum, an assistant professor in Texas Tech's College of Media & Communication, and Richard Nollan, the former Dean of Libraries at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. 

Initial workshops to define the parameters of the pilot project will begin soon. TLCUA has begun exploring its next negotiation priorities and other projects that can benefit from state-wide collaboration. Sara Lowman, TLCUA chair and vice provost and university librarian at Rice University, is enthusiastic about the future of TLCUA. 

“The coalition demonstrated what can be done when Texas institutions aligned by their principles work together,” she said. “We have big plans.”


TLCUA represents more than 660,000 students and 44,000 faculty. This consortium is one of the largest and most diverse library consortia in the U.S. Faculty in the coalition member libraries account for 7.2% of all research output in the nation and about 6% of all U.S. research published by Elsevier. The economic impact of coalition members is significant with annual expenditures exceeding $275 million.

Current TLCUA members are:

  • Angelo State University
  • Baylor University
  • Lamar University
  • Prairie View A&M University
  • Rice University
  • Sam Houston State University
  • Stephen F. Austin University
  • Sul Ross State University
  • Tarleton State University
  • Texas A&M International University
  • Texas A&M University (College Station)
  • Texas A&M University-Central Texas
  • Texas A&M University-Commerce
  • Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
  • Texas A&M University-Kingsville
  • Texas A&M University-San Antonio
  • Texas A&M University-Texarkana
  • Texas State University
  • Texas Tech University (Lubbock)
  • Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso
  • Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Lubbock
  • The TMC Library
  • The University of Texas at Arlington
  • The University of Texas at Austin
  • The University of Texas at Dallas
  • The University of Texas at El Paso
  • The University of Texas Permian Basin
  • The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
  • The University of Texas at San Antonio
  • The University of Texas at Tyler
  • The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
  • The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
  • The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
  • The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
  • The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
  • The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler
  • University of Dallas
  • University of Houston
  • University of Houston Clear Lake
  • University of Houston Downtown
  • University of North Texas
  • University of North Texas Health Sciences Center
  • West Texas A&M University