Early in the fall 2022 semester some faculty discovered, after informing students that their textbook was available as an ebook through Temple University Libraries, that the title had disappeared. This was due to the publisher Wiley’s removal of 1,379 ebooks from various subscription packages. The removal of these books affected libraries around the world, some of whom have spoken up forcefully.
In response to criticism from libraries, including an article in Inside Higher Ed and a statement by SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), Wiley has agreed to temporarily reinstate access to these books. You can find the reinstated ebooks in Library Search, accompanied by a note stating that they are only available through June 2023.
Like many libraries, Temple University Libraries subscribes to ebook packages that allow us to access items that we don’t technically own. Publishers have the right to remove their books from the subscription package, causing them to disappear from the library’s collection. Typically when this happens, library staff review the books to see which have been heavily used, and the library purchases replacement copies, which we then own and can access in perpetuity.
The situation with the Wiley books was different in that there was no option for us to purchase these particular books as ebooks in order to guarantee future access. The timing of the removal compounded the difficulties it caused, as our access was terminated at the end of August, the second week of the semester.
We at Temple University Libraries agree with those at other libraries who have spoken out against Wiley’s removal of these books. After next June, the texts will only be available via print copies or through so-called “inclusive access” packages, which require students to pay for temporary access to a set of ebooks assigned in their courses. Preventing libraries from buying course texts as ebooks shifts the financial burden from the library onto students, many of whom are already struggling to pay for textbooks. As a statement from George Washington University says, “Publishers who manipulate the academic market in order to maximize their profits at the expense of students’ financial well-being hinder the university’s ability to create an equitable learning environment for all.”
We regret the inconvenience this has caused to our faculty and students. If you would like to put a print copy of your text on reserve, see our Reserve Materials for Your Course page for instructions. If you are interested in using zero-cost materials so that your students won’t need to pay for textbooks, read more about affordable course materials on our website.