Libraries entrust negotiating authority to consortia upon the assumption that consortia can exercise greater “buying power” than individual institutions when dealing with vendors, because of greater scale. The prevailing mythology is that consortial deals simply must be better deals than libraries could secure on their own. In this presentation, the author questions the presumption that scale necessarily leads to better deals for libraries. Rather, library agency, as exercised in direct negotiations, can be more effective than scale for the purpose of securing the best possible deals. In fact, scale can lead to detrimental effects, to the extent individual institutions are forced to take bad deals negotiated by consortia to meet multiple, competing priorities. Not only can individual institutions secure better terms by dealing directly with vendors, but they can make better selection decisions, more appropriate to local campus conditions and priorities to support student success.
Gustafson-Sundell, N. (2016, December). The library & the consortium: Don’t trade away library agency without considering the cost. Presented to Money & Power: ACRL/ NY Symposium, NYC, NY.
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