unsub Featured in Scholarly Kitchen

Thanks to the thorough research and sympathetic writing of Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe, unsub (formerly Unpaywall Journals) has now received the positive publicity its team (Heather Piwowar and Jason Priem) so richly deserve.

I’d encourage everyone to read Lisa’s May 19, 2020, article in its entirety: Taking a Big Bite Out of the Big Deal. The comments are also instructive, particularly the protestations of the representatives of big publishers and the way that Lisa returns the conversation back to how unsub is essentially providing libraries a crucial tool we need to make evidence-based decisions about journal packages and subscriptions.

The timing couldn’t have been better from my perspective. Just last week I’d asked Heather and Jason if I might do a similar write-up. I was surprised at how such a vitally important and transformational tool hadn’t yet been featured in a major publication about Scholarly Communication. Heather mentioned to me that Lisa was already working on such a piece.

If I could add anything, I would simply mention that unsub won “Most Impactful New Product” when it was first unveiled at the November 2019 Charleston Conference. The fact that it has gained 300 library subscribers in a short and tumultuous half-year since then is amazing, but should not be surprising, nor should their goal of a 1000 library members by EOY.

Just a few weeks ago I played host to a shared demonstration of unsub by Jason Priem for the Cal State system. Fingers crossed that our Library Deans and Collection Development Librarians see the value of this tool and build it quickly into our workflows to ensure that we are spending taxpayer dollars strategically and not wasting money on a bunch of otherwise free (Open Access) content that publishers bundle in their big journal packages. The CSUs were one of the leaders in the cancellation of a big journal package with Wiley several years ago. With these new evidence-based decision-making tools now available to us, we are well-poised to continue that leadership.