6.2 TASK FORCE ON THE ECONOMICS OF ACCESS TO LIBRARY MATERIALS, Marcia Tuttle
6.3 WHAT REALLY HAPPENED AT ALA, Kenneth Kirkland
6.4 HAMAKER'S HAYMAKERS, Charles Hamaker
6.5 DOUGHERTY ARTICLE AVAILABLE FROM LAMA, Karen Muller
6.6 ARTICLES TO LOOK FOR, Various Subscribers
My apologies for letting two months go by between issues of the pricing newsletter. First, it's been an incredibly busy summer for me. Second, most of you who promised to send summaries of various meetings and instructions for downloading BITNET files have not done so; thus, news coming to me for the newsletter has been scarce, despite all the meetings and the discussion of the ARL Report. However, at the same time, our subscriber list continues to grow at the rate of several each week, about evenly divided between BITNET and paper, with a few new DataLinx subscribers. With this issue I am going to try again to upload to ALANET, so many of the nonlibrarians can receive the newsletter electronically.
We were the topic of much discussion, apparently, at the meetings of the RTSD Budget and Finance Committee in Dallas. My $3,200 budget request was denied, as expected, and the RTSD Board has said we must begin charging on a cost- recovery basis for the paper edition in 1990. I expect that will reduce the number of paper subscribers and maybe convert some of them to the electronic editions.
The discussions at the meeting of the PVLR Subcommittee on Serials Pricing Issues generated several excellent suggestions that will improve the newsletter. Among them: get an ISSN (I will!); tell people it's fine to reproduce the newsletter and/or quote from it, but we'd like credit; publicize the fact that back issues are available electronically from the editor and in paper from the ALCTS (formerly RTSD) office. Guests at the meeting wanted ALA programs and committee meetings summarized because of scheduling conflicts. That was the plan for this issue, but ... it's obviously been a busy summer for us all.
The committee and the editor will continue to welcome your suggestions and contributions. My BITNET id is TUTTLE@UNC; DataLinx id: TUTTLE; telephone number: (919) 962-1067; mailing address: Serials Department, C.B. #3938, Davis Library, UNC - Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill NC 27599-3938.
6.2 TASK FORCE ON THE ECONOMICS OF ACCESS TO LIBRARY MATERIALS
Marcia Tuttle, with help from Robert Wedgeworth's draft minutes of the first session
FIRST SESSION. Although the Task Force had intended to hear from scholarly and technical journal users in Dallas, lack of travel funds limited the availability of academic users. Therefore a shift to committee planning and deliberation occurred. Chair Wedgeworth spoke of new developments that complicate the group's task.
The ARL studies represent the most significant new development, and ARL Executive Director Duane Webster is coming to the Task Force's second session to present the findings and reactions since the ARL meeting in May. The dollar is showing new strength which is reflected in the latest projections of serials prices. Wedgeworth also indicated that there is some evidence that the many changes of ownership of commercial journal publishing houses has resulted in a "cultural problem," the introduction of principals into the culture of libraries and publishing who have little or no understanding of the symbiotic relationship that has characterized the field in the past. Their lack of sensitivity to the impact of changes in price, format or the role of subscription agencies may continue to present problems.
Marcia Tuttle reported on the new NEWSLETTER ON SERIALS PRICING ISSUES, which has appeared in five issues to date. Currently it is available on BITNET and DataLinx e-mail systems, with EBSCO offering to FAX or mail copies to EBSCONET subscribers. A paper edition is popular enough to require some cost recovery charge. Subscribers talk primarily about what they are doing in their libraries about cancellations, criteria for evaluating journals, and professional news of interest. Some publishers have subscribed.
Tuttle described the NASIG meeting as "more talking and less fighting" over the issues. Susan Davis, Treasurer of NASIG, added that there were major differences in concern for time between humanities scholars and scientists as the latter only wanted speed of access while the former wanted a more deliberate approach to scholarly publishing. Qualitative factors sparked some discussions.
The FAXON PLANNING REPORT, 1990, distributed by Tess Carey, reports what surveyed libraries are requesting in budgetary support and what surveyed publishers are proposing for pricing. Librarians are asking for increases likely to set new records, while prices are projected to increase around 6 to 8 percent. Linda Pletzke reported that at the recent meeting of the Society for Scholarly Publishing there was some concern expressed for libraries, but overall they were not responsive. The question is how to impress upon the publishers that they are "killing the goose." Perhaps Congress would be interested in the discriminatory pricing issue.
Wedgeworth stated that "we have a problem." The problem is both too little money and pricing that is higher than justified by costs. This is fairly well documented. It was reported that at an RTSD program two days earlier, Jerry Campbell made a proposal for a university copyright policy that would limit uses of academic research. Although interest was expressed by some members of the Task Force, others doubted that it would have a positive effect on pricing. A "professors' copyright policy" was mentioned. Wedgeworth commented that proposals such as these set the stage for alternative ways of access to the results of scholarly research. The question seemed to be how to stop the commercial uses of government and government funded information.
It was brought up that, in response to the "cultural problem," libraries might profit from a dramatic demonstration against targeted publishers. This action would also create public awareness of the situation. In response to a suggestion of what would occur if one or more libraries voluntarily withheld subscription renewal funds, Carey pointed out the risks involved in any money management given the fluctuations of the major currencies.
Some members of the group felt that more library funding would ease the pricing situation, and the suggestion was made that the Task Force might consider approaching Congress for additional funding for libraries. Indications are that it would gain little attention at present.
Another suggestion was that the Task Force propose a new depository of research produced with government grant funds. As an alternative source of access there seemed to be a consensus that it would simply result in higher subscription prices in the trade.
It was noted that an analysis of ARL statistics by Spyers-Duran revealed that shifts of funds from materials to automation support has exacerbated the budget pressures from serials prices.
Carey remarked on the bigger issue and proposed a general approach for the Task Force, recognizing that certain realities cannot be changed. Strategic alliances with influential elements in the fields of education, business, and foundations (especially NSF) could over time influence priorities and funding decisions in support of maintaining and broadening access to scholarly and technical knowledge.
George Soete was asked to develop in consultation with Task Force members a general introductory statement laying out this approach as an organizing concept under which several specific courses of action might be proposed for the library community. Deadline for this assignment is September after which subcommittee assignments for developing specific courses of action will be given to other members.
SECOND SESSION. Duane Webster related the goal of the ARL Study, to get an outside agency to determine whether there is any publisher action that endangers scholarly communication. The ARL directors wanted to know if there was anything they could do. The study was funded by a $23,000 assessment, plus a $15,000 grant from the Council on Library Resources. Webster continued to discuss the report and reaction to it.
The report states that profiteering is taking place and increasing. Few hard data were available, because publishers will not give these facts to us. We now have objective evidence and some ideas. Where do we go? We want to build alliances with commercial publishers and university administrators. We are not interested in publisher bashing, although it is needed. Publisher representatives who work with librarians are not those who are making decisions. The top people are business people who are only interested in profits. We must influence forces in the market rather than go after publishers.
The publishers say that libraries need to find more money, but the charts show that libraries have increased their materials budgets at a higher rate than the CPI, and it still hasn't been enough.
We need a Ralph Nader type capacity, an agency to monitor the situation, to set standards of value, and to give libraries information they can use with their constituencies to evaluate their collections.
Webster turned to publishers' reactions to the study. they are making an effort to discredit it (e.g., no list of titles is included; ECS did not ask them for information). They are continuing the pattern of a response of denial (e.g., just poor folk trying to make a living). Publishers claim the situation is a reflection of the self-regulating market at work; if you don't want it, then don't buy it, and we won't publish it. Finally, publishers have said, "We really want to cooperate."
Webster reported librarians varied responses to the study. Some say we should extend the study to other types of libraries. Others are not convinced by the modelling that has been done. Some question whether librarians can really do anything about this situation. Librarians want to do something besides gripe and complain, but we aren't sure what we can do. Librarians need a list of actions that can be taken, positive responses.
ARL voted to have Webster expend unbudgeted funds to move this ahead, to put more effort into relations with the external community, informing and building alliances. In addition there are recommendations for longer term action: encourage competition; commission a feasibility study of the possibility of establishing a collective to publish journals and also act as a purchasing agent.
Webster reported enthusiasm from the rank and file about the importance of the ARL Report. Librarians must be activists and informed consumers. We have lost part of our tradition that we need to recover, but it's a new industry that we are dealing with.
Asked for recommendations for action for RTSD and ALA, Webster responded with several. First is building alliances with scientists, humanists, and educational adminsitrators. Second, publicity is needed in order to attract the national interest. Third, in the federal arena, look at ways to bring the issue constructively to legislatures. For example, having federal contracts let with the stipulation that the work be published via noncommercial channels; use the ALA Washington Office to work up a set of legislative proposals. Another idea is to look at how copyright is handled in the university environment and contrast that with patent policy. A model agreement might give only partial rights to commercial publishers, with the author or the university retaining international or electronic rights, a practice known as unbundling rights. We must consider the long-term implications.
Discussing the newly created position at ARL to handle this issue, Webster said he was putting together a proposal for the directors' July 24 meeting. They will recruit this summer. He is proposing a significant increase in dues, effective in October, to fund the office.
Asked where ARL would be a year from now, Webster responded that there would be a visible presence: a person, an office, and products. The publisher cost index would be defined and operating. There would be defined strategies for looking at scholarly communication in all areas, not just the sciences. Cost indexes ("of the Barschall type") would be in place. The entire program will be a $100,000 - $120,000 investment by ARL.
Webster responded to a question about a link with the international research community by saying that ARL is looking at a joint resolution and a joint project with SCONOUL and the British Library. He thought that working with IFLA and particularly with developing countries was a "super idea."
A Task Force member asked, given that moderation of prices, cost containment, is our goal, how much should we be going after more money? Webster responded that we have a combination of declining public support at a time of mushrooming information costs. The challenge to the library field is to redefine its funding basis in order to succeed. The serials problem is only a small part of a bigger issue, only symptomatic. Federal and public support for education is going nowhere; the sources are drying up.
6.3 WHAT REALLY HAPPENED AT ALA: A Lighthearted, Personal Report
Kenneth L. Kirkland, DePaul University, LIBKLK@DEPAUL
Over all, I thought the conference was fair to middling. It was nice to be in Dallas, since the temperature never got above 90 and it was bright, sunny, and clean. It is a much nicer city than Los Angeles, even without Mt. Baldy and the Pacific. The freeways are less crowded, although it is wise to avoid rush hour. It is futile to be in Texas without a car. There are many beautiful ultra-modern buildings not featured on the TV program. Dallasites are not big on historical preservation, so the city gives a general impression of having been founded in 1980 rather than ca. 1850.
There seemed to be more conflicts of meetings than ever before. The very first one, the LITA Automated Product Review, at 9:00 a.m., was a bore. People had ten minutes each to point at the overheads and chant, "This is my software, this is my song." Luckily there was a handout describing all the software, so I caught the bus to the Sheraton in time for the 9:30 a.m. meeting on "Organizational Changes in Technical Services." It was out of my league, being for Heads of TS at middle-weight academic research libraries. HoTS's from the University of Louisville, the University of Texas-Arlington, and University of Wisconsin-Madison described their Reformations. It amused me that all of the panel and all of the questioners had just switched to NOTIS, then decided to re-organize, though they hastened to add that one didn't really have to re-organize because of automation. The second half was "Personnel Issues in Technical Services." They noted that there were no unique personnel problems for TS, "but some are more prevalent" such as physical conditions -- small cramped areas filled with cast-off furniture and equipment. Another issue was, "Should support staff be sent to conferences?" (If they've been bad???) I left when they started numbering off to form 12 separate discussion groups -- it reminded me of "Better for All" and the "blab schools" of 19th century Virginia.
The Gale bus took me next to the far-away Loews Anatole for "Publish or Perish." There I had 1.5 hours for lunch, a delicious chicken fried steak for $10.00 and a slice of fresh strawberry pie for $5.00 in an amazingly grandiose atrium. The next day I found Mary's Hot Biscuits on Harry Hines Blvd. only a mile or two from my motel, where chicken fried steak was $2.79 with biscuits and gravy. By this time I remembered why in 1984 I didn't park in the Dallas Convention Center Garage. You pre-pay $4.00 for all day, even for only 10 minutes.
The "Publish or Perish" part was good. Tony Stankus from Holy Cross had a deep and very resonant sportscaster's type of voice, and opened with the invocation, "ALL RIGHT, LET'S ROCK!" His main point was that scientists bring the dough in for universities and libraries, so librarians attacking scientists will lose, are cutting their own throats in the long run. The United States will go down the tubes if the sciences aren't supported. Librarians must get a new perspective on what constitutes "big money." Serials librarians should leave the pettiness of check-in, frequency, etc. to clerks. Our role is to be aware of who the editors and publishers are of the big-time journals. We should keep dossiers, including FAX numbers and page requirements, so as to be ready to evaluate a new publication immediately. "Act like a stockbroker!" We need to develop a blood lust for something like the "Journal of Library Competition" with headlines like, "HOLY CROSS KICKS BUTT OF OBERLIN." (Someone from Oberlin spoke up and said, "It'll never happen!")
Karen Hunter from Elsevier projects that price increases will continue, with more journals and fewer subscribers, the vicious circle others have been talking about. The whole base of subscribers has dropped since 1981. "King Canute is not going to hold back the tide." Pressures for higher subscription prices are not going to subside. Electronics will play some part in the future, in retrieval capabilities, with more personal tailoring, and smarter systems in five to ten years. We need to go beyond Boolean searching to full-text clustering. Sharing will continue. Document delivery will call for more digital transmissions and full-text networks. UMI's "ABI/INFORM" is "state of the art, a model for the future."
A new economic model for publishing is needed. The article will remain as the basic unit of exchange, but we will move to licensing rather than purchasing. The scene will be "pay-per-use and pay-only-for-what-is-used," pending more sophisticated control systems. The rich and poor will be farther apart. Information will be more expensive than it is now. ("There are some efficiencies in the present system, believe it or not!") Advertising makes paper publication cheaper now than it would be otherwise, but this subsidizing may disappear with more electronic publishing. "Users are not used to paying the full price for information."
EDITOR'S NOTE: KEN CALLS THIS PART I; HOPE TO HAVE MORE NEXT ISSUE.
6.4 HAMAKER'S HAYMAKERS: Profits, Profits
Charles Hamaker, Louisiana State University, NOTCAH@LSUVM
The June 9, 1989, issue of PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY, p. 11, gives profit figures from annual reports of both the Wolters Kluwer group and Elsevier. Kluwer sales rose 5 percent, but profits by 26 percent. American companies owned by the Kluwer group contributed 10 percent of group sales, i.e., Aspen Publishers, Aspen Systems, and Raven and Panel Publishers. Elsevier reported increased sales of 10.6 percent. My estimate is that price increases in their journals were in the neighborhood of 9 to 10 percent overall, although individual titles were higher and lower than that. The net effect, I believe, was in that range. However, they say, "improved turnover" and a 44 increase in net profit (!!!!!) are credited in part as well to their minority (8.7 percent) partnership in Britain's Pearson Group. If anyone has a copy of Elsevier's 1988 annual report, I would like to see a copy (please in English, although we do have someone on the staff who could read the Dutch version if necessary). Part of what all this might mean is that increased efficiency is as usual not being passed on to libraries in the form of lowered prices.
6.5 DOUGHERTY ARTICLE AVAILABLE FROM LAMA
Karen Muller, Executive Director, LAMA & ALCTS, U19466@UICVM
As noted in an earlier issue of this newsletter, the Spring 1989 issue of LIBRARY ADMINISTRATION & MANAGEMENT included an article by Richard M. Dougherty, "Turning the Serials Crisis to our Advantage: An Opportunity for Leadership." LAMA, the publisher of LA&M, is making available offprints of this article for use in discussing the serials pricing issue with faculty.
Single copies of the offprint may be ordered from the LAMA Office for $3.50 each, prepaid only. Multiple copies may be ordered in quantities of 10 or more at $2.00 each; minimum order $20.00. Postage and handling will be added to all orders that are not prepaid.
Send orders to: LA&M Reprint, LAMA Office, 50 E. Huron Street, Chicago IL 60611.
6.6 ARTICLES TO LOOK FOR
Contributed by Various Subscribers
As one would imagine, the release of the ARL Report and the immediate efforts of ARL officers to publicize its findings has already led to articles and editorials on journal pricing. The earliest I know of is in the June 9, 1989 issue of SCIENCE. Page 1125 has an editorial by Philip H. Abelson titled, "Combating High Journal Costs." It summarizes the findings and recommendations of the ARL Report, but it also mentions Barschall's findings on the low impact of some commercial journals. Abelson supports the effort to publicize the poor "cost effectiveness" and lack of impact of some international journals, so as to give libraries and scientists hard information about the journals for use in evaluating their collections.
Most recently, Eugene Garfield's editorial in THE SCIENTIST for July 24, 1989, "Why Scientific Publishing Should Be Audited," (p. 12) reviews the findings of ARL and asks for a "comprehensive audit of ALL scientific publishers," to allow for consideration of the various types of subsidies enjoyed by university and society presses.
In the same July 24 issue of THE SCIENTIST, Ken Kalfus has an article entitled "Scientists Balk at Soaring Journal Prices" (pp. 1, 16). Kalfus spoke with both librarians and scientists (as well as a publisher) to learn the effect of the loss of journals purchasing power by libraries. Thanks to Myrna McCallister, Appalachian State University Library, for sending this issue.
Kerry Kresse, University of Wisconsin - Madison, called the editor's attention to an article in the NEW YORK TIMES This Week In Review section for Sunday, July 9. This is "Where Information Is All, Pleas Arise for Less of It," by Jennifer A. Kingson. She concentrates on the "information glut," the expanding size of scientific journals, as much as on the prices that accompany the growth, and she mentions isolated efforts to alter the academic reward system.
Kerry also discovered three articles on the quality and quantity of scientific publishing in the July 10 issue of THE SCIENTIST, all beginning on page 11 and concluding on page 13 (page 12 is something else). They are: "The Pressure To Publish Promotes Disreputable Science," by A.G. Wheeler; "The Journal Glut: Scientific Publications Out of Control," by Jeffrey B. Moran; and "Scientists: Do You Really Want Your Papers Published?" by Philip D. Home.
Finally, in the June 16, 1989, issue of PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (pp. 34-39) is an article by Thomas Weyr titled "Professional Association Publishing." Weyr gives illustrations of the variety of publishing programs among societies (with their scope and growth rates) and includes financial and circulation figures for society journals, data that are not available for commercial journals.
EDITOR'S NOTE: IT WOULD BE GREAT IF, WHEN YOU TELL ME ABOUT ARTICLES, YOU SEND A BRIEF ANNOTATION.
Readers of the NEWSLETTER ON SERIALS PRICING ISSUES are welcome and are encouraged to share their copies with colleagues, either electronically or on paper. We would appreciate credit if you quote from the newsletter.