Library Calls for Contract Transparency

Contact: Gwen Glazer
Phone:  (607) 254-8390

Library Calls for Contract Transparency
and Begins to Reject Nondisclosure Clauses

ITHACA, N.Y. (March 23, 2011) – Cornell University Library will no longer sign contracts with publishers that include confidentiality agreements.
These nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) typically forbid libraries from revealing the price and terms of their purchases of licensed resources like journal subscriptions and databases.
“Libraries should be able to talk to each other about the details of these contracts. It’s as simple as that,” said Anne R. Kenney, Carl A. Kroch University Librarian. “When contracts are kept secret, institutions cannot negotiate effectively.”

NDAs often cover more than price, governing the way content can be used and how it’s accessed. Public institutions’ agreements can be requested through the Freedom of Information Act.
Cornell has already put the new policy into action, deferring renewal on one contract until the NDA clause was removed and foregoing another publication because the publisher would not remove the clause.  
The push to forgo NDAs has been brewing for years in the academic community, with the Association of Research Libraries issuing a statement in June 2009 advising its members to reject nondisclosure or confidentiality clauses.
Many major scholarly publishers already forgo confidentiality clauses. By insisting on transparency, the Library hopes more publishers will join the ranks of those who have already waived NDAs.
“Especially in this difficult budget climate, libraries have to look incredibly closely at how they spend their money,” said John M. Saylor, associate university librarian. “The Library moved ahead with the decision only after the faculty library board and the Provost offered their full support, because the academic community understands the importance of this kind of openness.”

Read the  full policy for more information.

About Cornell University Library
Cornell University is an Ivy League institution and New York's land-grant university. Among the top ten academic research libraries in the country, Cornell University Library reflects the university's distinctive mix of eminent scholarship and democratic ideals. The Library offers cutting-edge programs and facilities, a full spectrum of services, extensive collections that represent the depth and breadth of the university, and a deep network of digital resources. Its impact reaches beyond campus boundaries with initiatives that extend the land grant mission to a global focus. To learn more, visit <>.

The Library will no longer sign contracts with publishers that include confidentiality agreements