Usually the newsletter does not cover meetings in depth. I asked Pat Scarry if she would write a page or so on the recent SSP Top Management Roundtable, which she did. At the same time, October Ivins sent me a copy of her very detailed account of the same meeting, prepared for her "Serials Prices" column in SERIALS REVIEW. Reading them both, I concluded that the meeting was unusually excellent (even for SSP!) and right on target for the newsletter. Thus, I have combined the two reports into a lengthy article.
Later in this issue is a letter sent by Arnold Hirshon, ALCTS president, to Patricia Schuman, ALA president, regarding the taxing of library periodical subscriptions. I want to thank Arnold both for writing the letter and for sending a copy for the newsletter. A note from Jim Thompson in "From the Mailbox" reports further news from California.
NS12.2 SCHOLARLY COMMUNICATION AT WORK: A
DIALOGUE AIMED AT UNDERSTANDING HOW SCHOLARS AND STUDENTS USE
INFORMATION AND RELATED SERVICES AND HOW THEIR NEEDS ARE
EVOLVING AS TECHNOLOGY ADVANCES
Patricia Scarry, University of Chicago Press, PACS@MIDWAY.UCHICAGO.EDU; October Ivins, Louisiana State University, NOTORI@LSUVM.BITNET.
[This article contains substantial parts of Ivins' report prepared for her column, "Serials Prices" in SERIALS REVIEW.]
>From October 2 - 4 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, sixty-five persons gathered to share their views on the present and future of scholarly communication. The meeting was the Society for Scholarly Publishing's Top Management Roundtable, an annual event designed to bring together decision-makers in publishing, librarianship, and research.
During a conversation that was an unsuccessful attempt to persuade several colleagues to attend this meeting, one of them remarked how frustrating it has become to spend so much time communicating and so little time making changes to the system. She would have been pleasantly surprised by the roundtable, which provided both a valuable forum for communication and ample evidence that change is occurring rapidly. Co-chairs Christine Lamb, Little, Brown & Company, and Fred Spilhaus, American Geophysical Union, arranged the meeting so that eight of eleven speakers were scholars and researchers. The majority work in applied sciences, but the humanities and social sciences were also represented. The deliberately-limited attendence created an informal atmosphere with many opportunities for discussion. The program was divided into three segments: The Scholar's Needs, The Money Flows, and Setting the Course for the Future.
The first presentation was by Eric Almquist, Decision Research Corporation, who discussed findings of a 1991 Faxon Institute survey on information acquisiton. The survey examined three disciplines -- chemistry, genetics, and computer science -- and examined three levels, junior, mid-level, and senior scientists. Analyzing more than 1,000 information encounters, the study found such contacts come most often from journals, from colleagues, and from books, in that order. Among the "modes" used to acquire information, personal library/files, libraries, and face-to-face dialogue were most frequently cited. The library was considered a highly useful mode, although it was less frequently used.
The next three speakers described research practices in their fields of medicine, civil engineering, and design/occupational behavior. Each discipline has its own idiosyncracies, but most agreed that technological advances were changing research methods.
Jennifer Leaning, an MD who edits the PSR (Physicians for Social Responsibility) QUARTERLY, expressed concern that research that is electronically unaccessible may be overlooked and that the serendipitous discoveries from browsing may be eliminated. She feels that preservation and indexing of older material, which is not available electronically, is an important role for libraries.
Dara Entekhabi, Department of Civil Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, defended the status quo, although he characterized keeping up with pertinent literature as "drinking from a fire hose." He compared the building of "information networks" to building limited access highways -- the impact on the local communities is frequently overlooked. He pointed out that "personal libraries" are cocoons that scholars build from the "sea of information." They are duplicative and perhaps wasteful, but they are useful to the scholar. Entekhabi acknowledged that journal publishing creates a "vertical ranking" and that eventually any article can get published, simply by submitting it to narrower (and lower ranked) journals.
The final speaker in this session, Martha O'Meara, is untenured in the Harvard Graduate School of Design. She described the unique challenges of conducting research and submitting articles in an interdisciplinary field: should one be a "monk" publishing in niche journals that are read by "the ten other people doing similar research" or a "missionary," repackaging research to place it in mainstream journals for new audiences? O'Meara pointed out that the questions that come up between fields are often the most interesting and applicable in the real world, and she lamented that the "pure joy of roaming the library is becoming a luxury because of time."
After lunch, the most remarkable presentation of the meeting was given by Robert Bovenschulte, NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE. Asked to describe the financial prospects for scholarly publishing, he presented a list of eleven statements that appear likely, though not necessarily desirable to publishers.
1) The economic base underlying the system of scholarly communication is showing increasingly severe strain, and breakdown, though not collapse, is a distinct possibility. Traditional sources of funding will not keep up with rising costs and demands, and no new sources will be forthcoming.
2) Scholars and the learned societies representing them will have more of the financial burden of scholarly communication thrust upon them. If they are unwilling or unable to pay, they will have to live with reductions in services. The choice for scholars is to pay a greater share or forego some benefits.
3) Librarians will be increasingly driven to economize by reducing acquisitions even further. Incentives will grow for them to compete with publishers, particularly in non-traditional media and services.
4) Publishers will face declining dollar demand, higher costs, and lower profit margins for print publications. Hence, economies of scale will grow ever more essential for survival.
5) Publishers will be under greater pressure to justify that what they contribute to the scholarly process is worth what they charge. Adversarial relations, now so evident between librarians and publishers, will spread to scholars and become more intense as charges of corporate rapacity proliferate.
6) Technology will expedite searching; retrieval and general utilization of scholarly information, so convenient for users will be enhanced. But the technological innovations will not prove significantly more efficient economically (i.e., cheaper), and no one will want to pay for them unless pricing is dramatically reduced. Although funds will flow from traditional to nontraditional media, the fundamental insufficiency of funding will obtain. Hence, technology will be underexploited insofar as technical capabilities will outstrip the availability of money to support them.
7) Technology to improve efficiency of producing traditional publications will generate important savings, the agonies of installation notwithstanding. The resulting gains in the efficiency of the production process will delay, but not overcome, the day of economic reckoning for most publications.
8) Scholars will increasingly want to avail themselves of emerging systems for document delivery as a substitute, in part, for acquiring books and journals. Considerations of time and money will change how scholars do research and attempt to keep up with developments in their fields. Document delivery may, therefore, turn into a sizable business at the expense of printed material.
9) The government (e.g., LC, NLM, NREN) will emerge as a greater and more aggressive player. Its actions will erode publishers' opportunities by creating subsidized, competing services, much vaunted "privatization" aside. A consensus will gather strength that public institutions ought to control and manage the distribution of information generated with the support of public funds.
10) Copyright issues (i.e., property rights) will eventually be settled in favor of users, not providers, which will be to the economic disadvantage of both authors and publishers. Technology and a growing sentiment for disseminating information more widely in the public interest will overwhelm the claims of creators and distributors.
11) Players seeking to take over the role of publisher from those commercial and not-for-profit organizations that have historically discharged this function will find that it, like other crafts, looks far easier to do from the outside than it really is. Publishing is an acquired expertise replete with complexity and difficult judgments. The new players will discover that doing it well -- and on an economically self-sustaining basis -- requires experience and professionalism.
In discussing his eleven statements, Bovenshulte speculated that libraries, government and scholars will be economic winners to a degree; scholars will get more, but have to pay more. Publishers will be economic losers, but the decline will take a long time and large publishers will survive in some form. He offered some advice to publishers: mend fences with librarians and scholars; invest in new technology; defend copyright vigorously but be willing to compromise; shift resources to the practitioner and professional market. Librarians will be relative winners because they are in a position to function at the nexus of the communication process.
Lindsay Waters, Harvard University Press, provided viewpoints from the book publishing world, observing that publishing decisions -- even in the non-profit sector -- must be market driven. As the institutional market shrinks, university presses must publish books that will appeal to individuals as well.
Thomas Herring, professor of Geophysics, MIT, illustrated his presentation with his successful experiences in using electronic formats and predicted that uses of technology will continue to escalate dramatically as more scholars become "connected."
Karen Hunter, Elsevier, summarized the afternoon session. She agreed with Bovenschulte's remarks and noted that the growth in electronic technology combined with document delivery will generate rapid changes in efficiency and has the potential to change the journal industry dramatically. She agreed that a few large publishers will be among the survivors, but noted that they are also in danger of being dinosaurs in a race that favors the swift.
This session generated a great deal of discussion which continued into the evening. Is concentrating on who will pay for innovations forcing us away from solutions? Shouldn't we be deciding which features should be retained in an electronic environment? If we agree that publishing diversity is an asset and wish to avoid a monopolistic situation, how do we differentiate among publishers? How do we shift part of the large proportion of resources spent in marketing to distribution and thereby reduce costs? If the government gets more involved in funding publication, will this limit research to sanctioned areas?
The next morning, moderator Stephenson Gillispie, William Byrd Press, reminded attendees that although journal publishing is recognized as one of the most lucrative areas of American business, "pain drives change" and many problems with the system are being recognized. These are: 1) most journals have a 9 to 24 month backlog of accepted papers but there is growing pressure to publish within 30 to 60 days of acceptance. 2) People, not just scholars, can't keep up -- "information guilt" is widespread. 3) The cost of quality for refereeing and copy editing may mean the traditional format for publication is outdated. 4) Finding pertinent information is too labor intensive. 5) The growing politicization of research and scholarship in response to funding sources makes many researchers uncomfortable. 6) Publishers resist consolidation, but in most fields there are two or three effective journals and users would benefit with ready access to all. 7) Many publishers are spending millions of dollars on research with new technology; the field is changing so fast, no one corporate officer can stay current.
Edward Huth, editor of the new American Association for the Advancement of Science electronic journal, the ONLINE JOURNAL OF CURRENT CLINICAL TRIALS, described the project in terms of "shifting mental gears" and suggested that limited information for cost analysis is available, leading him to develop his own theory that "value equals utility divided by cost." Cost should consider not just subscription fees, but the time required to find information. The journal is directed at both researchers and practicing physicians. The annual subscription fee of $110 will include software and unlimited online connection time. Subscribers will be able to register special interest areas and will be notified by fax when trials in their areas appear. Abstracts will be listed online in BIOSIS and contents will be printed in SCIENCE. One challenge is to accelerate the peer review process. OJCCT will do this by trying to obtain parallel rather than sequential reviews from experts in the subject and in methodology. The ease of use already discussed at the meeting is critical; one reason he agreed to take the project was the impressive search protocol OCLC will provide. The journal will have some hypertext functions, such as alerts to subsequent letters to the editor, corrections and editorials relating to the original article. The reader must either cancel these alerts or choose to view them. Complimentary access to MEDLINE will also permit hypertext access to its abstracts for cited articles. A complete online archive will be maintained, and downloading or printing will be supported. Alternatively, print copies of articles may be ordered, and a microfiche archive will be available.
This view of the immediate future -- the journal will be released in April 1992 -- delighted and terrified the audience. Publishers asked questions about whether any editing beyond refereeing would occur; it will. Other publishers expressed concerns about creating information "haves and have nots" without a backup medium; librarians answered that Third World countries are being supplied with computers and generators.
The second speaker, Eugene Green, professor of Literature at Boston University, described his proposal for a hypertext Dictionary of Literary English in America. He was followed by James Wallis, a senior researcher at IBM Research Laboratory, who argued that journals will be of no use in thirty years. Even now, he uses preprints and program presentations; journal publication lags so far behind as to be useless. His talk generated a discussion about the importance of indexing in journal use.
The last speaker of the session was Stephen Murray, astrophysicist at the Harvard/Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. He explained that the useful life of journal literature in his field is quite long; 50 percent of articles are cited within five years, but 90 percent are cited within 40 years. In his opinion, identification is much more important than online text access. Value added abstracts, not just those supplied by authors, would be extremely useful. He then shared his experience with a NASA funded project named STELLAR ("the E is for experimental") to do two things: use digital scanning to create an electronic database of journals published by the American Society of Astrophysics; and create a new natural language indexing structure to search the database. The project has already scanned one year's worth of journals and the remaining scanning is expected to be complete in 18 months. The cost of the project is modest; less than $1 million for two years. Murray also stated that the cultural impact of this project is unknown -- will the paper journal atrophy?
Murray was the last speaker before the closing summary, and the discussion provoked was the most animated of the meeting. Barbara Meyers suggested that someone from the Office of Technology Assessment monitor the project. Ed Huth was extremely interested in index development and suggested his OJCCT group and Murray's coordinate their efforts. Janet Fisher, MIT Press Journals, asked about the aspect of a government agency (NASA) taking information from a publisher and distributing it free. Murray responded that society publications are involved and they estimate that the cost for paper publication works out to 25 percent for editorial cost, with publishing and distribution requiring 75 percent. Carol Fleishauer, MIT Libraries, Bob Shirrell, University of Chicago Press, and Mike Keller, Yale University Libraries, suggested ways libraries can work with publishers to archive electronic versions of publications.
The discussion was cut short to keep the meeting on schedule. SSP President Judy Holoviak, American Geophysical Union, summarized the meeting and described future actions SSP planned to continue the momentum of the meeting. These include a new committee that will study and prepare programs on "Changes in the Ways Scholars Use Information" and holding the 1992 annual conference in conjunction with those of the North American Serials Interest Group and the American Association of University Presses.
NS12.3 SERIALS MANAGEMENT INSTITUTE REPORT
Richard Jasper, Emory University Library, LIBRPJ@EMUVM1.BITNET.
I thought I would pass along a few comments regarding the first ALCTS Serials Management Institute, held last Friday-Saturday, October 25- 26, at the Sheraton O'Hare in Chicago.
It was splendid!
The speakers included Eyal Amiran, assistant professor of English at North Carolina State University and founding co-editor of POSTMODERN CULTURE, an electronic journal; Susan Keiser, senior journals editor for Oxford University Press in New York; Paul Evans Peters, director of the Coalition for Networked Information; Mary Case, head of Serials and Acquisitions at Northwestern University; Gary Brown, Faxon; and Joe Barker, head of Acquisitions at the University of California, Berkeley. In addition, Patricia Swanson, assistant director for science libraries at the University of Chicago, led the approximately 50 institute attendees in sessions on strategic planning Friday evening and again Saturday morning.
Peters' discussion of the expanding, evolving networked information environment was akin to taking a ride on the Starship Enterprise -- the ideas kept flying past at warp speed. His talk of gigabits, terabits, picabits, and "quite-a-bits," of high speed copiers capable of off-printing entire monographs in a short period of time, of networks capable of transmitting 20,000 pages of text per second by the middle of the 1990s, was mind-blowing in its implications.
Fortunately, Mary Case, Gary Brown, and Joe Barker, in discussing the implications for libraries, the role of vendors, and attention-getting techniques for providing serials management information, brought us back down to earth -- or in Barker's case, into the subterranean depths brought on by recession-wracked state governments. Their performances were quite remarkable in that all the while they adhered to Institute Planning Committee Chair Marjorie Bloss's injunction, "No whining!"
If it did anything, the Institute demonstrated just how wide a gap there is between the possibilities of the electronic future, presented by Peters and Amiran, and the often appalling here and now. This gap was reflected in the interests of the audience, a majority of whom were at least as interested, if not more so, in problems of moving to the next generation of automated serials systems from first generation or even manual systems.
Bridging this chasm were the Friday evening and Saturday morning sessions on strategic planning facilitated by Pat Swanson. Having individual groups examine potential serials projects, whether automated systems, cooperative buying, or shared resources, resulted in forward thinking discussions regarding goals, impact, resources, and change. Helping set the stage for Swanson's strategic planning components were Friday afternoon breakout sessions on coalition building and the data-gathering, data-analysis and decision-making, and implementation processes associated with serials management (facilitators included Mary Case, Marjorie Bloss, Kate Carpenter of the University of Illinois at Chicago, Jim Mouw of the University of Chicago, and myself.)
By the end of the Institute it was obvious that a great deal of ground still needs to be covered. Issues of copyright and ownership, access and high tech document delivery, institutional goals and organizational structure still need to be addressed if librarians are to heed Amiran's call to get in on the ground floor of the future networked information environment by influencing the development of new information-delivery technologies in their formative stages.
The Institute, which given its small size was made possible only by generous vendor support and a high degree of commitment on the part of ALCTS, was an essential first step.
NS12.4 SALES TAXATION OF PERIODICAL SUBSCRIPTIONS
Arnold Hirshon, Director, Wright State University Library, AHIRSHON@ DESIRE.WRIGHT.EDU.
The following is a copy of a letter I sent to Pat Schuman in my capacity as President of ALCTS. I thank you for providing the public service of making this issue generally known through NSPI. I thought you should have an advance copy of my letter. The full text of the letter will be appearing in an upcoming issue of AN2.
Respond to: Arnold Hirshon, ALCTS President, University Librarian, Library, Wright State University, Dayton OH 45435 Fax: 513/873-2356 Internet: firstname.lastname@example.org October 23, 1991 Patricia Glass Schuman President American Library Association Neal-Schuman Publishers 100 Varick Street New York, New York 10013 Dear Pat: I am writing to alert you to a deplorable situation that unfortunately shows evidence of becoming a national trend. I refer to the practice of charging libraries state sales tax for their periodical subscriptions. This practice, which occurred first in California and more recently in Pennsylvania, was reported recently in the Newsletter on Serials Pricing Issues (NSPI) (October 21, 1991, issue NS 11) and the Chronicle of Higher Education (October 23, 1991, p. A7 "Footnotes"). States have begun to engage in this practice to compensate for decreased revenue collections. However, the unfortunate result is that all libraries are being robbed of valuable purchasing power and of the ability to provide necessary information to their users. Consider the cases of California and Pennsylvania: -- CALIFORNIA. According to the Chronicle, the new sales tax will cost colleges and universities more than $5 million per year. Furthermore, "[l]ibrary officials said the new tax was likely to force them to reduce their subscriptions to periodicals in order to meet the higher expense from the tax. They added that book purchases might also be cut back to provide savings." California recently passed a special exemption for libraries, but to qualify for the exemption the Chronicle indicates that three conditions must apply: (1) the journals must contain no commercial advertising and (2) the journal must be published by nonprofit publishers and (3) the libraries themselves must be members of the non-profit groups. The net effect is obviously that a painfully small percentage of library subscriptions (whether in public or academic libraries) will be exempt according to these rules. -- PENNSYLVANIA. Susan Cady (Lehigh University Libraries) wrote to NSPI that ... the state's new 6 percent periodical tax will apparently apply to all of their purchases of periodicals published with quarterly or greater frequency. The act imposes a 6 percent periodical tax on "the purchase price on each separate sale at retail of a periodical and upon each separate mailorder subscription for a periodical." Although most private academic institutions are exempt from sales tax, this law states that other than the governmental exemption and the resale exemption, none of the sales tax exemptions or exclusions shall apply to this tax. Efforts are underway on a number of fronts, including the Pennsylvania Library Association, to change this situation. Clearly this condition cannot be allowed to stand in California or Pennsylvania. We also must be vigilant so that state legislatures that find themselves in financial disarray don't adopt this practice elsewhere in the country. To this end, the Association for Library Collections & Technical Services (ALCTS) will be gathering additional information in the next few weeks. We intend to bring forth a resolution to Council on this critical issue at the Midwinter Meeting, and we will seek the surdivisions. Further, we intend to have our Legislation Committee Chair speak to this issue at the Legislative Assembly and to the Chapter Relations committee so that appropriate state groups can do as Pennsylvania has done and lobby in their states. With "Your Right to Know" as the ALA theme of the year, there is no question that the right of all citizens will be greatly threatened by the continued or expanded practice of state legislatures and governors to approve any measure that taxes citizens for information and that results in less available information. I will keep you apprised of further developments as ALCTS continue to vigorously pursue this issue. Sincerely, Arnold Hirshon President, Association for Library Collections & Technical Services Enclosures: Article from NSPI Article from Chronicle of Higher EducationNS12.5 FROM THE MAILBOX
>From Ann O'Neill, School of Information and Library Science, UNC- Chapel Hill, ONEIA.ILS@mhs.unc.edu:
I found these quotes while doing research for my nursing seminar paper and just had to share them. Who says the conflict between society and commercial publishers is new?
1) "The Real Thing" Lavinia L. Dock, BRITISH JOURNAL OF NURSING. V.35, p.415, Nov. 18, 1905. It sounds incredible, but it is a fact, that many women do not realize that in subscribing to a journal they encourage it and strengthen its spirit, whatever that spirit is, and that by _not_ subscribing they _discourage_ it and diminish its influence. They have never thought far enough back to realize that in buying and paying for a thing they tacitly approve it, and give a silent order for more of the same kind. 2) "The Aims of a Professional Journal" Margaret Breay, BRITISH JOURNAL OF NURSING, v.74, p.7, January 1926. If all nurses exhibited this loyalty to professional ideals, commerical nursing journals, which are frankly out to make financial profit from their expert knowledge and talent, would "fold their tents like the Arabs, and as silently steal away" to more lucrative pastures.
>From Jim Thompson, University of California, Riverside, THOMPSON@UCRVMS.BITNET:
An update on sales taxes on journals in Ca.: the Office of the President of the UC system has allocated an extra $2.1 million for materials, which most campuses are using to pay for the expected sales tax bill for journal subscriptions. It is not yet clear whether this extra funding will be continued after this year.
>From Dan Lester, Boise State University, ALILESTE@IDBSU.BITNET:
If you haven't already seen it, I highly recommend the article on the back cover of the October 23 CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION. "Information Access: Our Elitist System Must Be Reformed" is by Douglas Greenberg, VP of the American Council of Learned Societies.
How ironic it is that even in this electronic age, access to information should be so deeply undemocratic, despite the democratically inspired character of so much of what humanities scholars have produced in the last 20 years.
Do we need electronic journals? Perhaps, but not nearly so much as we need better access to the print journals that already exist, and certainly not as much as we need the hardware and software that will allow _all_ potential readers of such journals access, not just the fortunate few.
>From Cindy Hepfer, SUNY Buffalo Health Sciences Library, HSLCINDY@ UBVM.BITNET:
One of our reference folks passed along to me a notice from the Oct. 24 WALL STREET JOURNAL saying that Elsevier had agreed to buy the British medical journal LANCET from Hodder & Stoughton Holdings Ltd. Terms were not disclosed. Philip Attenborough, Hodder & Stoughton Chairman, said the publisher lacked the resources to develop LANCET, its only journal, to its full potential. The notice continues:
"We have been reviewing all our operations and, in consequence, we have decided to focus our full attention on our book publishing activities," Mr. Attenborough said.... For Elsevier, the purchase of LANCET will further consolidate the Dutch publisher's hold on the technical journal market.Currently my library is renewing two copies of LANCET at $260.00. At $130.00, the weekly LANCET has been a real bargain. What will the future hold in the way of price increases, as Elsevier develops LANCET's "full potential"?
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 by the editor as news is available. Editor: Marcia Tuttle, BITNET: TUTTLE@UNC.BITNET; Faxon's DataLinx: TUTTLE; Paper mail: Serials Department, C.B. #3938 Davis Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill NC 27599-3938; Telephone: 919 962-1067; FAX: 919 962-0484. Editorial Board: Deana Astle (Clemson University), Jerry Curtis (Springer Verlag New York), Charles Hamaker (Louisiana State University), James Mouw (University of Chicago), and Heather Steele (Blackwell's Periodicals Division). The Newsletter is available on BITNET and ALANET. EBSCO and Readmore Academic customers may receive the Newsletter in paper format from EBSCO and Readmore, respectively. Back issues of the Newsletter are available electronically free of charge through BITNET from the editor.