Elsevier, a Dutch publisher and one of the world’s major providers of scientific, technical, and medical information, announced this week the acquisition of bepress, formerly the Berkeley Electronic Press, an academic repository and software firm founded by academics in 1999.

Elsevier is part of Reed Elsevier, the parent of LexisNexis. Much of the publishing Elsevier sells is authored by professionals and submitted for peer review.

As I understand it, the research and information then published is only available by subscription, including as to any authority who would want to access their own submissions.

Elsevier has been subject to criticism of late from academic institutions worldwide, and even governmental agencies, for their having to fund research/scholarly writing, give it to Elsevier for free and then pay millions to Elsevier to get access to the research and writing.

In the case of government funded schools and research centers, the taxpayers pay twice. To fund research that goes to Elsevier, then to pay Elsevier for access to the reasearch their colleges, healthcare centers and government agencies require.

Bepress, on the other hand, has open access tools under its “Digital Commons” that allows institutions, including law schools, to showcase and preserve their scholarly output. Law review articles and other legal scholarship is available for free through bepress’ Law Commons, part of the larger Digital Commons network encompassing other academic areas.

Bepress’ acquisition comes on the heals of LexisNexis’ acquisition of SSRN, another repository of scholarly output, including that from law professors. Some librarians are looking with some suspicion at whether LexisNexis will retain open access and freely allow legal scholars to use their work freely across the net.

How did librarians and knowledge management professionals recact to the bpress acquisition? Not well, looking through the “Top” tweets on a Twitter search of bpress in the hours after the acqusition announcement.

Elsevier announced the acquisition at 8 AM PT on Wednesday.

With the news announcement, via ZDNet, coming at the same time.

Following a few minutes later was a personal tweet of the “exciting news” from Elsevier’s Global Head of Corporate Relations.

Then came big question marks of Elsevier’s motives and ensuing problems for the academic community, beginning with a tweet from a digital projects coordinator and librarian at a major university.

Followed by the the library director at Macalester College.

Then more from the library community.


Then a college librarian who made her feelings clear.

An associate librarian for public services and scholarly communication had much to say (and did below), but feared “repository-sabotaging retribution.”

Bepress replied that it’s hard to hear all of this.

Within an hour of Elsevier’s announcement, professionals were looking for an alternative to Elsevier’s bpress, beginnning with a librarian at Georgetown Law.


The Associate University Librarian for Publishing / Director of University of Michigan Press continued the alternative solution discussion by questioning commercial platforms altogether.

And the alternative discussion, and what it would take, continued.


From this library director, it’s clear Elsevier was the issue, and why an alternative repository was needed.

Elsevier and its practices being an issue was made more than clear by this college librarian and director of communications.

A librarian and open access advocate shared a summary of tweets from his colleague, who earlier feared retribution, on why bpress selling to Elsevier was such a problem.

And the displeasure only continued four hours after the acquisition announcement with the Scholarly Communication Librarian at Cornell finding the acquisition troubling.

By mid-afternoon an engineer with an information services company wondered why bepress would expect any other reaction.

The above represents a good sampling of top tweets on the acquisition. Although I saw people comment on bepress being a good organization, historically, with good people to work with, I did not find any library professional who looked with favor on the acquisition.

Attorney and legal tech blogger, Bob Ambrogi, reporting on the acquisition noted that the announcement said nothing about the future of the bepress’ Digital Commons. Ambrogi said “we’ll have to wait and see what impact this has on scholarly publishing in law.”

It doesn’t appear many in the library community are going to wait and see. Librarians find Elsevier’s purchase of bpress troubling, at best.