March 19, 2004

Cornell, Store Lower Packet Prices

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Considering the rising tuition costs, students may be glad to hear that Cornell is working to save students money. The Cornell Store, University Library, Office of Information Technology and Office of General Counsel began collaborating last year to create the Cornell Copyright Information Center, saving students money on course packs by taking advantage of pre-existing licenses.

Cornell University Library subscribes to over 20,000 journals in electronic form. Most of these require Cornell to pay a license for access. Last year, the Cornell Copyright Information Center worked on determining which licenses would allow Cornell to print articles for course packs.

The Cornell Store has paid about $200,000 each semester for permission to print articles in course packs. Hirtle said that the Copyright Clearance Center recently increased their handling fees 10 times from $.30 to $3.00. Printing licensed electronic journal articles resulted in $34,000 in savings on course packs for students last semester, and Peter Hirtle, intellectual property officer for the University Library, said that he expects savings to increase as faculty members assign more current articles and many journals digitize their older issues.

According to Hirtle, the idea for the course pack savings project came from Georgia Harper, manager with the intellectual property section of the University of Texas System, who was invited to speak at Cornell a little over a year ago. The two were having breakfast and discussing the problem of faculty members assigning an article in a course pack and putting it on reserve. She figured that the Cornell Store could potentially use the library’s licenses for printing articles in course packs.

“It’s really obscene how much course packs cost,” said Hirtle. According to Jim Lawrence, Cornell Store custom publishing manager, the average course pack cost $42.92 in Spring 2001, as compared with $27.42 in Spring 2004. “That’s why packets are expensive, it’s the royalties,” Lawrence said.

“I think it’s great that we’re able to essentially increase the usage of our subscriptions,” said Jesse Koennecke, access services librarian.

“When we sign new contracts we make sure that all of the information is spelled out explicitly,” said Scott Wicks, head of acquisitions, bibliographic control and government documents for Central Technical Services.

The partnership included the Office of General Counsel, which reviewed licenses to make sure articles could be printed.

Lawrence said that some professors have told him that the partnership has made a big difference and that some of the business school packets went from $80 to $20. He added that there was a lot of work initially — looking up all of the journals and recording which of the licenses allow printing for course packets — but that it should not require as much work once all of the information is in a database.

Archived article by Vanessa Hoffman
Sun Staff Writer