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Joint Open Letter to International Publishers


   Scholarly journals and monographs are knowledge created by worldwide scientists and scholars. With the efforts of Chinese libraries and international publishers, China has introduced a large number of international full text STM journal databases in recent years, which has indeed improved the wide dissemination and sharing of knowledge, and has played an important role in the development of Chinese research and education.

However, in recent years, the prices of international STM journals and their full text databases have continuously been increased well above the general CPI increase rate. Some went up annually at the rate of more than 10%, and a few have raised their prices even at an annual rate above 20%. This has dramatically pushed Chinese library acquisition expenses for international journals to double or even triple within no more than 10 years, causing some libraries to reduce the subscriptions. Facing the international financial crisis, many countries have kept their library budgets under strict caps or even cut library budgets, and Chinese libraries have also experienced severe pressures for rigorously controlling their subscription budgets.

To our dismay and anger, a few international STM publishers, using their monopolistic position, recently demand to raise the subscription prices for their full-text database at a yearly rate of more than 14% for the next 3 years, despite of the fact that their prices have already had a yearly increase of more than 10% in the last contract period. Those publishers claimed that they aim to raise the Chinese users’ cost per article to that of most developed countries in Europe and America in 2020, completely ignoring the fact that China is still a developing country with GDP per capita and investment in research and education per capita still far below the average level of developed countries. Those publishers require that the growth of subscription fees for their products to be kept pace with the nominal growth rate of R&D investment in China, intentionally blind to the fact that China’s education and science are still at an early stage, and the spending coverage of Chinese R&D investment is usually far greater than those of similar institutions in developed countries. Those publishers care solely for their own profit growth targets, paying no real attention to the rights of China users to access to STM information and the actual Chinese economic situation. The sharp price rises they demand are simply far beyond any reasonable product price growth in the world and absolutely exceed the capacity of Chinese libraries. It is totally unreasonable, and categorically unacceptable.

Libraries and publishers have mutual responsibility and common interest in promoting the wide dissemination of knowledge and in meeting people’s needs for information. The dutifully fulfillment of this responsibility and the reliable realization of  the interest can only be based on an affordable, stable, and sustainable mechanism to protect users’ rights, to promote positive cooperation, and to establish long-term affordability, with a keen understanding of the social realities. Especially with the fast developing digital information networks, almost all the physical, technical, and even economic barriers of knowledge dissemination are fast being overcome, the open dissemination of knowledge and forceful protection of public interest become mainstream social needs. Any attempts to deprive user rights, reap extravagant profits, and to sabotage the STM supply chain, will not only harm users and libraries, destroy the stability of the STM information market, but will also inevitably hurt the long term self interests of those publishers. And because of the rigid constrains of library subscription funding, it will unquestionably attack the market shares of other STM publishers and reduce the vitality of the entire market.

Therefore, we strongly require those publishers to act with a high sense of responsibilities to users, themselves, and the market, to respect the legitimate rights of Chinese users, and to develop a reasonable, realistic price policy and flexible subscription options in line with the Chinese conditions and economical realities, avoiding cutting off the access of Chinese users to their products and forcing them to re-allocate funding to other and many equally important resources. We also call upon all other international publishers to work together with libraries and user communities for the benefit of wide dissemination and utilization of knowledge, and to keep down the price changes of STM journals and databases and to maintain a reasonable, cooperative, and sustainable STM journal market.

We, the undersigned libraries, promise to work together to fight the unreasonable high price increase, for the sake of China users’ long-term and legitimate rights and interests, and also for the interest of a sustainable STM information market. We are willing to work together actively and responsibly with all the publishers to discuss and explore appropriate and effective solutions to well balance the interests of users, publishers and libraries.


Signatures of Library Representatives




National Science and Technology Library

Yuan Haibo


National Library of China

Chen Li

Associate Director

National Science Library, Chinese Academy of Sciences

Zhang Xiaolin


Sun Tan

Associate Director

Peking University Library



Xiao Long

Associate Director

Tsinghua University Library

Deng Jingkang


Fudan University Library

Ge Jianxiong


Shanghai Library

Zhou Deming

Associate Director

Institute of Medical Information, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences

Dai Tao


Agricultural Information Institute, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences

Meng Xianxue

Associate Director

The Library of Renmin University of China

Liu Chunhong

Associate Director

China Agricultural University Library

Pan Wei

Associate Director

Tianjin Academic Library and Information System

Li Qiushi


Jilin University Library

Li Shuyuan


Zhejiang University Libraries

Ma Jingdi

Associate Director

Nanjing University Library

Shi Mei

Associate Director

SoutheastUniversity Library

Li Aiguo

Associate Director

Shanghai Jiao Tong University Library

Lin Haoming

Associate Director

Xi’an Jiaotong University Library

Shao Jing

Associate Director

WuhanUniversity Library

Liu Xia

Associate Director

Huazhong University of Science & Technology Library

Yuan Qing

Associate Director

Sun Yat-sen University Libraries

Luo Chunrong

Associate Director

Harbin Institute of Technology Library

Yu Guang

Associate Director

Dalian University of Technology Library

Liu Bin

Associate Director

Beijing Normal University Library

Huang Yanyun

Associate Director

PKU Health Science Library

Wang Jinling

Associate Director

Capital Normal University Library

Xiong Li

Associate Director

Shandong University Library

Jiang Baoliang

Associate Director

SichuanUniversity Library

Lin Ping

Associate Director

Xiamen University libraries

Chen Xiaohui

Associate Director

Chongqing University Library

Peng Xiaodong


Lanzhou University Library

Sha Zhongyong


Central South University Library

Zhang Zengrong


Zhengzhou University Library

Zhu Rong

Associate Director


September 1, 2010


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