SPARC Supports New Initiative for Shared E-Resource Understanding

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NISO working group aims to facilitate buying and selling of electronic resources

For immediate release:
March 1, 2007

For more information, contact:
Jennifer McLennan
(202) 296-2296 ext. 121

Washington, DC – March 1, 2007 – The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) has formed a working group on Shared E-Resource Understanding (SERU) to develop a best practice statement that will support a new license-free mechanism for buying and selling electronic resources. The working group will build upon exploratory work already done by a group sponsored by SPARC, ARL, the Society for Scholarly Publishing, and the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers.

The SERU best practice statement will not be a license, although it addresses many issues common to license agreements. During the purchase process, publishers and librarians will be able to reference the normative understandings expressed in the best practice statement and they may choose to rely on their trust in the shared expectations and existing contract and copyright law, rather than negotiating and signing a license agreement.

SPARC is pleased to encourage this project’s efforts to reduce the overhead costs—to both libraries and publishers—that are attributable to negotiating license agreements. License negotiations are appropriate for many e-resource sales but too often increase the prices of products, impose needless delays in access for users, and raise barriers to publishers’ entry into the e-resource market. Developed in the context of the U.S. publishing marketplace, it is anticipated that the project will benefit negotiations in other countries as well.

More information about the SERU project and working group is available at This site includes information on how to sign up to be notified of new developments as the project progresses. An FAQ is also available at the site.


SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), with SPARC Europe and SPARC Japan, is an international alliance of more than 800 academic and research libraries working to create a more open system of scholarly communication. SPARC’s advocacy, educational, and publisher partnership programs encourage expanded dissemination of research. SPARC is on the Web at