One of the real joys of being a serials librarian is taking part in the fury of processing the holiday mail. In late December, with all our Acquisitions Assistants on vacation except our two new people, I got to help with serials check-in on our manual system. For three days I checked in mail for six hours and SSS'd (our local Stamping, Striping, and Shelving procedure) for two hours. On Friday night, December 29 I was in bed before 10:00, exhausted. As I struggled with the need to attach new check-in cards for new volumes, construct call numbers that the vacationing supervisor would accept, and separate single-sheet serials from ads, I gained a new respect for the very publishers we love to bash. I never had to search for the enumeration on their journals. Checking in one of these international journals often lowered the height of my stack of mail significantly. Issues had the date on the cover along with the enumeration, so I knew when to begin a new line on the check-in card. They even had the message "Last issue of this volume." Let's face it, these guys know how to publish journals!
Sensitivity to the needs of librarians comes at a high cost. And it is a cost we pay twice. When we order these expensive international journals through a subscription agent, we are paying again, because these publishers give the agent something on the order of a ten percent discount. Figure that out in dollars! Even when the publisher puts a cap on the amount of the discount, it's a lot of money. The agent tells us two things: 1) the discount on these expensive titles lowers the library's service charge on the other journals; and 2) the agent earns the discount by the service he provides the publisher. How does the publisher feel about subsidizing the cost of our acquiring other journals? I acknowledge that transmitting a batch of orders electronically is a service to the publisher, but the agent's other "services" include screening library claims and passing on information about delayed publication and title changes. I submit that libraries rarely have to claim the journals in question and these publishers notify us very clearly of title changes and the very few delays in publication. I am not advocating that libraries begin to subscribe to international journals directly from the publisher, but I do wonder if we are paying even more "too much" than we realize.
As they say on television, "Your response is welcome."
A message from Lelde Gilman (ECZ5LBG@UCLAMVS.BITNET) at UCLA Biomedical Library sees vindication "in the BIG PRESS!" for a controversial talk she made at the last conference of the Medical Library Association:
"My talk on the publisher/librarian embroglio is being published in the January issue of the MLA Bulletin ... but see the article on pages 1331-32, vol. 250 of Science, December 7, 1990, "Publishing by -- and for? -- the Numbers," by David P. Hamilton. MIT professor Richard Young says if the bottom 80 percent of the literature "just vanished, I doubt the scientific enterprise would suffer." The article is based on an ISI (Institute for Scientific Information) study regarding the citation of only a small percentage of science literature. My talk in May: "If all of us do cut back everything but the best, or the highly cited (and I do believe there is a correlation), there may eventually be an audience of U.S., Japanese and West European medical libraries subscribing to the same expensive, and fewer, journals We all have a pretty good idea as to which ones these might be. If and when this happens, as it well may, scientific communication will still continue unabated. Does anyone really doubt that scientists will continue to publish and communicate?" Since we are about to engage on a massive cancellation project for journals (by necessity) and having to explain this to the faculty, it is wonderful to have at hand the article from Science!"
My library's copy of the January MLA Bulletin hasn't come yet. I urge you to watch for this issue and read Lelde's article.
I am getting messages and more messages about a new electronic journal sponsored by North Carolina State University, Postmodern Culture. For those of you who don't know about it, "it is a peer-reviewed electronic journal which provides an international, interdisciplinary forum for discussions of contemporary literature, theory, and culture. It emphasizes open debate and intellectual engagement." Postmodern Culture is available free of charge on BITNET or the Internet (or $15.00-/individuals, $30.00/institutions a year for microfiche or disk, plus postage: $3.00/Canada and $7.00/elsewhere outside the U.S). Vol. 1, no. 1 was September 1990. To subscribe, send a message to PMC@NCSUVM.-BITNET, or PMC@NCSUVM.NCSU.EDU, and ask to be added to the subscriber list. For disk or fiche write: Postmodern Culture, Box 5657, Raleigh NC 27650.
Which reminds me to ask you what your libraries are doing about these new electronic mail journals. Are you receiving them at all? Online? On disk or other format? How do you receive them (e.g., a personal mailbox or a special mailbox)? How do you retain them? Online? Disk? Paper? Server? How do patrons access these journals? What works and what doesn't?
Jim Thompson, University of California, Riverside, (THOMPSON@UCRVMS.- BITNET) keeps us current with the financial security of the Maxwell empire:
"In case any of your readers are worried about Pergamon's ability to survive the rising costs of paper and postage, and all the other dire developments which we're always told have today's commercial publishers at death's door, The Scotsman (Edinburgh) of November 29 indicates that Maxwell Communication is likely, after all, to make it through long enough to send out the next renewal notices. "Operating profits from publishing and professional database information services leapt by 50.4 per cent, from L71.8 million (i.e., pounds) in 1989 to L108 million... Mr. Maxwell said the advances had been achieved despite the more difficult economic conditions both in the US and the UK, and internationally. 'Our publishing and professional information services have demonstrated their recession-proof qualities by these results,' he added...'We look forward to a satisfactory outcome for the year.'"
>From Randy Reichart at the University of Alberta (RREICHAR@UALTAVM.BITNET) comes the text of a letter sent by Alberta's collections coordinator, David Jones, to Christopher Schneider, International Sales Director of Gordon and Breach:
Dear Mr. Schneider: Attached are the labels from the SIX copies of your catalog that we received in the mail. This is truly a gross waste of postage and material. While your mailing system may not be sophisticated enough to avoid all duplication (i.e., between those addressed to Mungall and those to the Science and Technology Library), surely you should be able to note four copies all going to the same individual and two to the same library. Please save us some money (and use it to lower the price of your publications) and in future send only 1 copy of your material....
31.2 SUPPLEMENTS TO _EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF
Eleanor Cook, Serials Librarian, Appalachian State University, Boone NC; COOKEI@APPSTATE.BITNET.
This is an excerpt from a letter I recently sent to the German publisher E. Schweizerbart'sche:
In response to my inquiry about this, our serials vendor discovered that next year (1991) the EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF MINERALOGY will be available for subscription either with or without supplements. While this is a step in the right direction, I am still stuck with these two supplements that I do not want. I'd like to return them and get our money back, but I was told I could not do this. American university libraries are suffering under the weight of journal prices and we can no longer afford to absorb the cost of supplements whenever you feel like putting them out. We want to know exactly what we're going to have to pay on a yearly basis, with no surprises. Our shrinking budgets can no longer handle such practices.I'll let you know if I get a response. In the meantime I am stuck with two issues of something that I cannot shelve or bind because the mention of the title we have the subscription for is in small letters on the cover and elsewhere, and they will be a constant source of confusion.
31.3 ELSEVIER'S RESPONSE TO SUSAN ANDERES
David Bousfield, Ph.D., Publisher, Elsevier Trends Journals, 68 Hills Rd, Cambridge CB2 1LA, Eng.; JDB13.PHOENIX.CAMBRIDGE.AC.UK.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Letter reprinted with author's permission. For Anderes's letter, see Newsletter no. 30.)
Dear Ms. Anderes, Thank you for your letter of November 8th. Please be assured that we do take comments from our customers seriously as we are always looking at ways of improving the service we provide. Responding to your points in order: 1. The price of the institutional subscription has increased by 10% (1% less than the UK inflation rate) - not by 16.3% as you describe. Also, our pricing policy (printed on the contents page) has always made it clear that the Personal edition is available to individual users only. 2. We are always prepared to consider alternative subscription packages, but as yet we are unconvinced that it would be in the financial interest of an institution to not receive a compendium. The local binding costs are invariably inflated by the need to replace missing and damaged copies. All of our studies show that we can provide a cheaper service overall. 3. Basically, we have two prices: the full (Library) price and a heavily discounted (Personal) price. The full price is based upon the high overhead costs involved in running the Trends journals (we currently have 50 staff working on 10 titles). The discount price is subsidised by advertising income, which in turn is only possible due to the high Personal subscriber levels enjoyed by the Trends titles. To decrease the institutional rate would require a disproportionate increase in the Personal rate. This in turn would lead to a fall in subscriber numbers, and ultimately in advertising income, creating the need for a further disproportionate increase in all prices. To summarise, the institutional price reflects the very high costs associated with the editorial production of the Trends magazines. The low Personal price reflects a strategy for providing some subsidy for all versions of our product via advertising income. I hope these comments clarify some of the reasons behind our pricing policy. We will of course reconsider your suggestions early next year when pricing for 1992. Meanwhile, I hope you will accept that, as the enclosed extract from a recent issue of THE SCIENTIST shows, we do deliver a high quality product.
31.4 "DIFFERENTIAL TREATMENT" FOR INSTITUTIONAL
Christie Degener, Health Sciences Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; email@example.com.
Two instances of institutional subscriber discrimination recently crossed my desk.
1) Claim requests for issues of journals published by Medical Economics Pub. Co. are being returned from our vendor with the stamped message: "Copies are not replaced to libraries or institutions." Contacting Medical Economics clarified this policy statement somewhat: if the issues were mailed to the correct institutional address, libraries and institutions must pay for missing issues they claim rather than getting them free. (However, personal subscribers submitting claims do normally receive the missing issues for free.) According to the Medical Economics spokesperson, this policy has been in effect for at least 5 years because the publisher has had too many libraries submitting claims for "missing" issues that were actually received and then lost/stolen/whatever. Recent issues of 3 Medical Economics titles (Business & Health, Drug Topics, and Medical Economics) do not mention this policy or give any claiming instructions.
2) The latest issue of Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology (Vol. 36, no. 4, Aug. 1990) contained a special "Announcement to Institutional Subscribers" as follows:
Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, Vol. 36, Supplement II "Dietary Protein as a Regulator of Lipid Metabolism" Edited by Michihiro Sugano 182 x 257 mm, about 170 pages, Jap Yen 3,000 (excluding postage) will be published around October, 1990. The subscription price of this supplement issue is not included in the regular institutional subscription rate. (Only for personal subscribers is it included.) Please use the attached post card when ordering this issue.
Center for Academic Publications Japan
This title's only other supplement is published as part of the Vol. 36, No. 4 issue itself (and therefore automatically included for both personal and institutional subscribers).
In both cases described above, the titles do not have separate personal versus institutional subscription rates.
EDITOR'S COMMENTS: Christie sent documentation for both instances, for which I thank her. Her covering note said: "When I called Medical Economics, the rep. volunteered to send our missing issues free, "because it's Christmas." She has since obtained a catalog from Medical Economics which does state the no-claims-from-libraries policy on page 5. I checked the title Medical Economics on DataLinx and found a statement that said the claim limit for this publisher is three months.
Christie then called the publisher, Doug Florenzie, to ask for clarification. He told her that both policies were "basically true." In the past they have been reluctant to supply second copies to institutions because of libraries' abuse of the privilege. Further, the company has a limited inventory of back issues. Recently there has been a subtle change in the policy and Medical Economics Company has become a little more accommodating. Some issues are available for claims, if the library does not have "a reputation" for claiming abuse and if the three-month time limit is met.
31.5 _CHEMICAL GEOLOGY_ OR _ISOTOPE GEOSCIENCE_?
Marcia Tuttle, TUTTLE@UNC.BITNET.
As I was checking in the holiday mail, I came across a journal issue carrying a post-it note that said, "double check-in." In the state of mind provoked by using a manual check-in file on December 28, I rejected the idea of this duplication of effort and put the issue aside to study later. Here's what I found.
The issue in question, dated December 10, 1990, was labelled:
The head of the contents page says "CHEMICAL GEOLOGY - ISOTOPE GEOSCIENCE SECTION - AN INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL." The publisher is Elsevier Science Publishers in Amsterdam. On the check-in cards I found a series of letters dated from 1982 to 1987 from Elsevier, some stuck on one card and some on the other. Excerpts follow.
1982: With effect from 1983, your subscription to CHEMICAL GEOLOGY will now include a new section entitled ISOTOPE GEOSCIENCE. ISOTOPE GEOSCIENCE is a 'daughter' section which is being launched because of the increasing amount of work now being done in the field of isotope geology and radiochemistry. For the subscribers to CHEMICAL GEOLOGY, this new destinction (sic) offers a more comprehensive, yet simpler, information source in the remarkably active area of geochemistry. A subscription to ISOTOPE GEOSCIENCE only is possible. If you intend to subscribe to this new section only, please do inform us. 1984 In response to suggestions put by a number of our subscribers to ISOTOPE GEOSCIENCE, we have decided to re-number the journal issues with effect from 1985. As you know, ISOTOPE GEOSCIENCE was launched last year as a daughter journal of CHEMICAL GEOLOGY. The new journal was given its own numbering sequence (ie, starting with Vol. 1/1) as well as being numbered as part of CHEMICAL GEOLOGY. From the beginning of 1985 this policy will be abandoned and we will only be numbering the issues in accordance with the existing numbering of CHEMICAL GEOLOGY.... I hope this change will alleviate some of your cataloguing problems.
With reference to your subscription to the above mentioned journal, please be advised that you will have received, or will shortly be receiving, the first issue for the 1987 period. This title consists of several sections, which can sometimes lead to confusion in administration. On the back of this letter, for your convenience, you will find a publication schedule for the 1987 subscription period. This publication schedule lists exactly which volumes cover the separate sections of this title. If a coexistent volume numbering for the separate sections is used, same is also listed. We hope this publications schedule will be of use to you in the administration and registration of this title in your records.... (on verso) CHEMICAL GEOLOGY is published according to a volume-numbering scheme that embraces both sections of the journal. Each of these sections has its own volume numbering, according to the following system: CHEMICAL GEOLOGY Vols. 60-66 7 volumes - 28 issues Vols. 60-64 Vols. 65-66 CHEMICAL GEOLOGY ISOTOPE GEOSCIENCE (5 volumes - 20 issues) Vols. 6-7 (2 volumes - 8 issues) For cataloguing, it is recommended that subscribers to CHEMICAL GEOLOGY follow the CHEMICAL GEOLOGY numbering sequence. Subscribers to ISOTOPE GEOSCIENCE should adhere to the section volume numbers.
The 1987 letter is identical to the 1986 letter and gives the 1988 publication schedule and the same cataloging advice.
This discussion is not just about bibliographic treatment of journals. It has strong, albeit subtler, implications for pricing, too. The most common reason for such things as "daughter" publications is to avoid starting a new journal and to cash in on the more or less captive audience of the original serial. Some publishers would not make available a separate subscription to the new section alone, as Elsevier did. Nor would they go to the trouble to send out a letter each year to aid librarians, as Elsevier does. This publisher tries very hard to accommodate the wishes and needs of librarians (at a price), as well as those of their editors. The editor has taken this round.
31.6 HAMAKER'S HAYMAKERS
Chuck Hamaker, Louisiana State University, NOTCAH@LSUVM.BITNET.
One of the battles in medicine that has direct bearing on many of the issues tracked by Newsletter readers is getting public debate through a controversial discussion of control of medical information. The NEW YORK TIMES, November 14, 1990 (page 1) broke nationally a story that had been pieced together by AIDS activists. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a division of NIH, did not notify doctors of a report prepared by a panel of 16 AIDS specialists which reached a conclusion May 15, 1990 that steroids can halve the death rate from AIDS-related pneumonia. The report was delayed five months until one of the papers on which the conclusion was based was accepted for publication at the NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE. The author's fear that NEJM would not accept his paper if the panel report, based in part on his paper, came out before a journal accepted it, apparently was one cause of delay.
In the NEW YORK TIMES December 2, 1990 (page E4), under an article by Gina Kolata, "Patients and Scientists Fight for Control of Medical Information," a second research arena, cases of Women and AIDS, are at issue, with the issue being who owns government generated research. Using the Freedom of Information Act, advocates are trying to get unpublished data from Federal studies. The NIH is determined not to release information in the papers before they appear in medical journals. Joanne Belk, acting Freedom of Information Officer at the NIH said, "It's a very, very sensitive matter. We really are trying to protect researchers' draft manuscripts before they are published. We don't want to jeopardize their chances of publication."
William Rubenstein, a lawyer for the ACLU trying to get the AIDS data from the Government said, "They (the studies) were paid for by a public agency and the law says the public has access to the data. I don't see how the Government has a right to withhold them."
Although it is almost a commonplace among academic and research libraries that journal publishers hold our budgets hostage with ridiculously large increases in prices, now it is becoming clear to a much larger public that the journal system can hold much more than library dollars hostage. It can hold lives hostage to a system as well. I recommend librarians watch this one; it has the potential of finally defining who controls access to information, and how. Although the peer review system is one of the basic shibboleths of science, withholding lifesaving information while the system works its will is likely to bring that wall of Jericho crumbling, especially in the case of government grant funded research. AIDS activists have accused the NIH panel that withheld its results for five months with murder. The system is likely to be under increasing pressure to correct this type of abuse. Reading the NEW YORK TIMES articles is probably enough to outrage anyone.
Think about medical areas where there are no "activists" dogging researchers and wonder how long it takes lifesaving research to save your own family. In the case of federally funded medical research, normally the integrity and methods of the researcher have been peer approved before the research is funded. Formal publication may in fact be a mere artifact for tenure and additional funding. When delay for formal publication means more people dead, where does the line get drawn? I hope it is not a career that draws the line; but at this stage, clearly it is.
The last two issues of the ARL NEWSLETTER contain several important items Newsletter readers should know about. Ann Okerson in the January 4, 1991 issue updates us on changes in NSF Grant Proposal Requirements. "In lieu of providing a complete list of publications for the past 5 years, senior personnel need only include a list of up to five publications most relevant to the research proposed and up to five other significant research publications. Items in press may be included." Okerson notes only "12 citations are requested in nominations for both the Nobel Prize and membership in the U.S. National Academy of Sciences." Way to go NSF! The real question is, is this sufficient to tell faculty that publish or perish is no longer the name of the game? Maybe grant committees should continue to request all publications of the last five years and deduct points for any over 10!!!
This same issue of the ARL NEWSLETTER contains the basic text (subject to wording changes) of a resolution passed by NSF's executive committee at the organization's annual meeting on November 13, 1990. The resolution not only supports ARL serials initiatives, it offers NASULGC support in developing strategies to deal with pricing and production (or overproduction) in scholarly publishing. It recommends among other points that NASULGC (that's the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges) campuses inform their faculties regularly about journal price increases; that faculty of NASULGC campuses "be sensitive to the assignment of ownership of their written products; that faculty of NASULGC institutions acknowledge cost as a factor in the selection of serials...." (Did all librarians who still believe we only have to judge quality note that one?); "that NASULGC encourage member institutions to examine the extent to which academic reward system and grant/contract practices contribute to the excessive production of publications..."
Dr. Peter Wagner, Provost, SUNY Binghamton, chairs the NASULGC Library Committee and sought input from Ann Okerson and ARL in formulating this resolution. I hope the full text becomes widely available soon so everyone can take a look at it. Jennifer Wingard, Assistant Director Federal Relations -- Higher Education at NASULGC describes the passed resolution as "highly proactive, exciting and enabling." NASULGC represents the nation's 72 land-grant colleges and universities.
It's old news for many by now, but the November 7, 1990 issue of the ARL NEWSLETTER included a lead article by yours truly, "Journal Prices in Perspective," which documents an eleven-year growth in prices from the big three sci-tech publishers of 170 to 309 percent, while university and library budgets grew about 110 percent. Overall CPI was about 50 percent for roughly the same period. Growth in volumes and issues ranges from 4 percent to 73 percent, varying enormously by publisher in the same time frame. If you need overview numbers this could help.
In a December 7, 1990 release, Faxon estimated U.S. domestic journals increased in price 12 percent, which is, if memory serves, at least 30 percent higher than any time in the last decade. Looks like American publishers got a bit greedy, or else foreign acquisition pressure forced them to do it, or, heaven forbid, does this mean they really are noticing cancellations??? None of them has admitted that yet, but we are waiting to see which publisher admits first that subscription levels are down. American and foreign publishers are afraid such "information" would help a competitor. They seem to be willing to go down with the ship rather than admit there is a serious problem that they don't want to admit.
Readers of the NEWSLETTER ON SERIALS PRICING ISSUES are encouraged to share the information in the newsletter by electronic or paper methods. We would appreciate credit if you quote from the newsletter.
The NEWSLETTER ON SERIALS PRICING ISSUES (ISSN: 1046-3410) is published as news is available by the American Library Association's Association for Library Collections and Technical Services, Publisher/Vendor-Library Relations Committee's Subcommittee on Serials Pricing Issues. Editor: Marcia Tuttle, BITNET: TUTTLE@UNC.BITNET; Faxon's DataLinx: TUTTLE; ALANET: ALA0348; Paper mail: Serials Department, C.B. #3938 Davis Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill NC 27599-3938. Committee members are: Deana Astle (Clemson University), Mary Elizabeth Clack (Harvard University), Jerry Curtis (Springer-Verlag New York), Charles Hamaker (Louisiana State University), Robert Houbeck (University of Michigan), and Marcia Tuttle. EBSCONET customers may receive the newsletter in paper format from EBSCO. Back issues of the newsletter are available electronically free of charge through BITNET from the editor.