January 18, 2022

SPARC Interviews Gale Etschmaier, Dean of Florida State University Libraries, and the Negotiations Team on Elsevier/Big Deal Cancellation

From the Introduction to a Q&A Interview From SPARC:

Florida State University (FSU) lost access to its Elsevier content in March 2019, following cancellation of its $2 million Big Deal contract. However, Elsevier was not their first Big Deal cancellation. FSU had previously canceled their Springer Big Deal in 2016, and so went into their Elsevier negotiations knowing that these negotiations could result in similar outcomes. Elsevier cautioned FSU to prepare to spend a $1 million dollars for tokens and pay-per-view access to content.


The following is a Q&A with Gale Etschmaier, Dean of University Libraries (FSU), and her negotiations team: Valerie Boulos (Associate Dean, Resource Management & Discovery Services), Roy Ziegler (Associate Director for Collection Development), and Jean Phillips (Associate Dean of Libraries for Technology and Digital Scholarship). All were heavily involved in the “Elsevier Exit.” Roy was instrumental in establishing outreach strategies to campus stakeholders, transparently communicating their data analysis to faculty and liaison librarians. Jean and Valerie set up expedited article delivery service, helping FSU establish effective alternative access plans. They also assessed implications for interlibrary loan (ILL), and negotiated the license agreement for 150 new a la carte Elsevier titles after cancellation.

Etschmaier and the Negotiations Team Answer the Following Questions:

  • As an institution that has successfully canceled a Big Deal, can you walk us through the cancellation process?
  •  Can you describe your faculty engagement efforts throughout the Big Deal negotiation process?
  • What factors were important in convincing faculty you are making the right decision to cancel Elsevier?
  • What were some of the concerns that you heard from campus during this process?
  • Did conversations about open access occur during these negotiations?
  • Did you end up saving money after canceling? If so, what did you decide to do with your savings?
  • How else has canceling impacted your campus?
  • What advice do you have for other institutions going through the same process?

Read the SPARC Interview (approx. 1800 words)

See Also: Financial Times: “Mutinous Librarians Help Drive Change at Elsevier” (February 12, 2020)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.