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Effective immediately, the Libraries will no longer sign licenses that include non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). For those NDAs currently in effect, we will exclude them upon renegotiation of the license. In cases where a publisher refuses to exclude the NDA, we will opt not to license the product. Both the Association of Research Libraries and the International Coalition of Library Consortia have strongly endorsed this position as have peer institutions, such as the University of Virginia and MIT.


The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Libraries are committed to building and facilitating access to world-class research collections in accordance with four core values: affordability, sustainability, transparency and public access. As a state institution, we take seriously the obligation to steward taxpayer resources responsibly. Non-disclosure agreements fundamentally run contrary to that responsibility. In addition, UNC Chapel Hill, as a state institution, is subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Any license agreement may become public through this process. Eliminating the need for a FOIA request provides the most transparency.

Non-disclosure agreements hide the true cost of collections. It is standard for libraries to pay higher prices for books, journals, databases and other research resources given our large constituencies. However, NDAs prohibit us from sharing actual costs with researchers and the taxpayers of North Carolina.

Non-disclosure agreements also prohibit libraries from sharing prices and licensing terms with each other. This creates inequity as individual libraries may pay very different prices or have different levels of access for the same content.

Over time, the lack of transparency created by NDAs has affirmed the system of “big deals” that is pushing UNC Libraries and other academic libraries into crises of affordability and sustainability.