NS18.2 BERGER ASKS FOR HELP FOR DISCUSSION WITH AIP PUBLICATIONS BOARD
NS18.3 LIBRARIAN'S RESPONSE TO THE PRINCETON LETTERS, Siegfried Ruschin
NS18.4 SUBSCRIPTION AGENT'S RESPONSE TO THE PRINCETON LETTERS, Adrian Alexander
NS18.5 SERIALS CANCELLATION NEWS FROM AMERICA'S PREMIER RESEARCH LIBRARIES, Tony Ferguson
NS18.6 20-YEAR-OLD PRINT JOURNAL IS OFFERED ELECTRONICALLY, Lon Savage
NS18.7 FROM THE MAILBOX
NS18.1 FROM THE EDITOR
Marcia Tuttle, TUTTLE@UNC.BITNET.
Welcome to the 75+ new subscribers to the newsletter. No, this is not a normal between-issues increase. Embarrassing though it is, for the sake of these 75, I feel I must explain. Contrary to what people continue to write and say, the newsletter is NOT on a listserver. However, for some reason known only to my postmaster, it was possible to subscribe through a message to LISTSERV@UNCVX1. But several months ago I took over maintenance of my mailing list, and issues are sent to addresses on that list. At the same time, the listserver continued to accept subscribers, telling them that they were on the list. The only thing is, nobody -- or no thing -- told me! Thus, none of these subscribers has received a single issue, unless they sent me a message asking why. A few weeks ago, out of curiosity, I asked the listserver for a copy of my mailing list. Bad surprise! No one knew how to merge the two lists, so yesterday I manually added the new addresses, bringing our direct distribution list close to 950 subscribers.
Siegfried Ruschin and Adrian Alexander have responded to my request to comment on the "Princeton letters," from librarian Donald Koepp to Pergamon president Michael Boswood, published in NS 14 and 17. I am grateful to both of these men for contributing to this discussion. I hope their remarks will aid librarians in their cancellation/retention decisions.
Did you see the list of The World's Most Prolific Scientists in the January 11, 1992 issue of SCIENCE (p. 283)? Number one is a Russian chemist who authored 948 papers between 1981 and 1990, an average of 3.9 days between papers! The source was SCIENCE WATCH, from the Institute for Scientific Information, and data are from ISI's article databases.
NS18.2 BERGER ASKS FOR HELP FOR DISCUSSION WITH AIP PUBLICATIONS BOARD
Marcia Tuttle, with information from Pat Berger.
Pat Berger (National Institute of Standards and Technology) called the other day to ask for our help. She has been invited to meet with the American Institute of Physics Publication Board on April 3, and discuss with them librarians' concerns about society journal pricing. She sent the draft minutes of last year's meeting.
The Board recognizes that libraries, "who are their main customers, are caught between rising prices and constant or decreasing budgets." A particular concern is "cheating" by libraries; i.e., ordering journals at the member price. AIP has attempted to minimize this practice by writing letters to individuals ordering four or more separate journal subscriptions at the member rate. "Of the 200-300 letters, 20 responses were received, and only one respondent admitted "'cheating.'"
In order to combat the problem of rising subscriptions, it was suggested that members' copies "be produced with inferior quality (of paper and binding) compared with those copies intended to be archived in libraries...." When the matter of increasing page charges was brought up, one response was "We should not be subsidizing the commercial-publishers' journals."
The Publications Board also discussed electronic publishing. Their journals are online, but this format has brought little financial success. They are concerned about cost recovery and copyright protection.
These draft minutes show that AIP is concerned, as are librarians, about excessive publication. One editor lamented that "the information content in manuscripts was decreasing, despite a growth in the number of pages per paper; slicing of pieces of research into LPU's ('least publishable units') was on the increase, and scientists were publishing more than they were reading."
With this information as background, please help Pat respresent the library profession as we need her to. She wants to hear from newsletter readers as to the specific topics she brings up with the AIP Publications Board. Her FAX number is 301 869-8071, and her e-mail address is email@example.com.
And while you're at it, how about sending a copy to the newsletter at TUTTLE@UNC.BITNET or FAX: 919 962-0484.
NS18.3 LIBRARIAN'S RESPONSE TO PRINCETON LETTERS
Siegfried Ruschin, Librarian for Collection Development, Linda Hall Library, Kansas City MO
Much has been said and written about serials prices in the past few years. Little has changed. Differential pricing continues. We find that when prices are adjusted or equalized, they are usually raised to their higher common denominator, as we have recently seen again; when the dollar is relatively weak, it serves to justify higher prices; when it is strong, paper prices are lower, and inflation is generally modest, prices rise nonetheless in unexplained and nonexplainable fashion. Nothing seems to stem the trend. But in the absence of competition or any other truly countervailing force, we should not be surprised by this absence of noticeable change.
Some action is inescapable. Donald Koepp's letters to Pergamon seem to me clear, straightforward, and an attempt in the proper direction. Commenting on his letter of November 12, 1991, I wrote to Mr. Koepp in part:
I have often felt that the response from librarians to the policies of some publishers was surprisingly ambiguous, weak, and ineffective. What is less surprising is that, consequently, the publishers give little weight to us and to our opinions. Pergamon's latest sharp price increases are not only hard to justify on any grounds, but after all that has been said, written, and promised, these increases, at this time, are astounding, as you say, if not challenging and provoking....
It seems to me that we continue to support a process that has gotten out of control and ultimately will break down at great cost. I would agree with those who argue that we should make some of these difficult, but necessary decisions, even when, or perhaps precisely when, temporary, slightly less unfavorable circumstances give us a short respite from immediate financial strictures. Not everybody would agree, and I realize that there are no obvious, simple answers. But I was glad and reassured to see that you, as the director of the libraries of a most distinguished university, share some of my opinions and that, in an undeniably difficult and complex situation, you have apparently received some substantial support from the university's faculty.
It is difficult and perhaps not entirely fair to propose solutions, when we do not have all the pertinent facts. I agree that more fact finding is desirable. But many facts that would be pertinent are not available to us, and so we are forced to evaluate and decide matters on the basis of the best available evidence, by drawing logical conclusions, and by using common sense. We are, moreover, not dealing with something recondite. Lacking the training and wisdom of professional economists does not necessarily prevent one from drawing valid conclusions.
Without trying to find an explanation or to get into the apparent reasons for Pergamon's decision to equalize subscription prices in various countries, the rationale for Princeton University's reaction is simple to understand. The steady increase of prices is impossible to sustain in the long run. It is only prudent to impose limits on the increases that we will allow, no matter what the reasons for those increases may be and without assessing responsibility for them to anybody in particular.
We may not have been trained in the intricacies of the business world, but it seems to me that librarians who are responsible for acquisitions of library material and for the dispensing of funds have a fiduciary responsibility. Simply stated, we should act as we would (or should) in our personal affairs. When a product is too expensive, we should not buy it; with limited funds, we should first abstain from buying those products that we consider overpriced.
At Linda Hall Library we have on occasion taken some action, not in unseemly or hasty angry retribution, but in reaction to publishers' or agents' specific policies, the consequences of which we considered actually or potentially onerous to the library's operation and long term aims. We have changed some traditional practices and procedures and modified others. Perhaps it is easier (though by no means easy) for us to do this than for other libraries, where responsibilities may be more dispersed and hinder the perception of a problem and limit the possibility as well as the imperative for action.
In the last few years, we have had to cancel many subscriptions, and, to be effective in reducing costs, these cancellations had to include expensive journals. I could not agree more with those who argue that more research is necessary to establish valid criteria of "cost effectiveness," quality, or whatever truly solid standard one could apply in this work. When arguing for the cancellation of this journal rather than that one, most of us will be too aware of our inadequacies to be happy with the process or its results. But decisions appropriate for each library have to be made. We cannot continue to simply accept the word of publishers whose interests -- let's honestly admit this basic fact -- are not fully identical to the ones we are responsible for.
While Mr. Koepp's proposed solutions may not be ideal, they are reasonable and logical. Some of my colleagues may be surprised by his decision not to accept in the future invoices that do not state firm prices. We have tried to do this at Linda Hall Library and, frankly, given the existing system, have run into some difficulties. But the idea is sound. Can anybody imagine a business that, except under extraordinary circumstances, would firmly commit itself to buying a product without a binding price quotation? In most commercial transactions such proposition would be considered preposterous. Yet, these are the conditions under which much library business has been conducted.
Mr. Koepp is proposing to address this astounding condition. The widespread implementation of his proposal would go some way in getting control of our library affairs. Singly implemented it currently creates some difficulties for subscription agencies who try to get orders in early enough "to avoid interruption of service." If libraries would as a matter of course expect to be billed at definite and binding prices, workable and effective solutions would be found. As major customers, libraries should expect procedures to be accommodated to their needs and convenience.
Another way of dealing with the problem is to order subscriptions directly from the publisher rather than through an agent. After more than thirty years in serials work, I am quite aware of the arguments for and against this choice. But it does not have to be an absolute one and can be restricted to all or parts of a publisher's products. At Linda Hall Library nearly one half of our subscriptions, including most for Pergamon journals, have traditionally been placed directly with publishers. This indeed gives one the greater flexibility that Mr. Koepp suggests we seek.
A major objection that I can foresee is that the implementation of these proposals would increase our work, when we are already overburdened, and that ultimately it would increase cost. I am not swayed by either argument, but am convinced that, if librarians want to be treated as serious partners in business transactions that they necessarily have to engage in and want to be respected as professionals, it is imperative for them to assume fuller control over procedures and expenses that they are responsible for.
There may be some outcry against my saying that the responsibility for the present situation lies largely with us librarians, who out of fear to see an "interruption of service" have authorized too many blank checks that have only encouraged and aggravated a situation that we rightly bemoan. Every time we place a standing order, and you can be sure that I understand the expediency and occasional need for doing so, we relinquish our prime responsibility to select and choose. I know that this oversimplifies a very complex problem, but I am not willing to concede that this diminishes the validity of my arguments.
NS18.4 SUBSCRIPTION AGENT'S RESPONSE TO THE PRINCETON LETTERS
Adrian Alexander, The Faxon Company, ALEXANDER@FAXON.COM.
Mr. Koepp's references to renewal of subscriptions without "firm prices" raises some interesting questions, as always, about the timing of several facets of the subscription order process. First there is the library's order to the agent, which typically can take place anytime between May and October, although many agents have experienced more late renewals this year than normal. Generally, the earlier the order, the less chance there is that the invoice from the agent includes the final "firm" price from the publisher for the coming year. The majority of those new prices usually don't get posted into the agent's title file until August, September, and October, depending on the publisher in question. Orders then start going out from the agent to the publishers in October and November. It is important to remember, however, that publishers often require a renewal commitment or new order anywhere from 1 to 3 months in advance of the start date of the new subscription, but may not set the new "firm price" until the beginning of the new subscription period.
>From the standpoint of cancelling a "renewal commitment" to an agent, to use Mr. Koepp's phrase, the key factor is whether the cancellation request was received by the agent prior to having sent money to the publisher. My experience has been that most agents will issue a credit to the library for a cancelled title any time the cancellation request is received before payment had been sent to the publisher. Even after payment has been made to the publisher, most agents will probably ask the publisher for a refund if the new subscription has not yet started, and some publishers may even grant that request.
The crux of Mr. Koepp's dilemma, however, probably lies in the phrase "by the time we (the library) have firm prices." If the library has already sent the renewal list back to the agent prior to the new pries being available from the publisher, then whose responsibility is it to advise the library of the new prices in the event that the library may wish to cancel some titles if the prices are too high -- the publisher or the agent? What responsibility does the library then have to make this particular need known to the agent and the publisher so that one or both of them can address the need?
Both the vendor and publisher communities are constantly looking for ways to improve and expedite the flow of pricing information to the library. Some new procedures have proved highly effective, while others actually have delayed the process, at least in the initial stages of implementation. On an industry-wide basis, however, I think we are making sincere and earnest efforts to respond to the needs of the marketplace.
NS18.5 SERIALS CANCELLATION NEWS FROM AMERICA'S PREMIER RESEARCH LIBRARIES
Tony Ferguson, Columbia University Libraries,
Prior to the San Antonio meeting of the Chief Collection Development Officers of Large Research Libraries Discussion Group, a survey was distributed to discover the breadth and depth of serials cancellation going on among these libraries. It asked whether a serials review project was underway, and, if so, what was being reviewed and the expected level of expenditures to be cut.
Seventy-four percent (28) of the 38 libraries responding indicated they were conducting a project. Of those indicating no project (10), two said they were always reviewing titles, another indicated publishers which discriminated against it (a national library) because of its size would be reviewed, and another indicated it was too early to tell.
Interestingly, the cutting this year appears to be hitting both periodicals and monographic series. Seventy-nine percent of the libraries (22) indicated they were reviewing both types of serials. Another seven percent (2), monographic series only. This seems significant since most book publishers do not acknowledge any deterioration in revenues as yet. Finally, fourteen percent (4) said that they were reviewing periodicals only.
In general the cuts seem to be across the board in terms of subject. Most libraries, seventy-nine percent (22), indicated that they were reviewing all subjects, eleven percent (3) focusing on the sciences, and another seven percent (2) focusing on other subjects.
Irrespective of subject, only three other libraries besides Princeton have decided up to this point to target a specific publisher.
The survey allowed libraries to categorize their expected level of expendi- tures to be cut in $50,000 increments. In terms of a worst case scenario, from three to four million dollars worth of serials will be cut this year. This will not only be lost publisher-vendor revenues, but it also represents decreased access to information.
The question that many of those responding must have in their minds is, what will they do next year?
Range No. Libraries Percent Libraries Cutting Cutting $50,000 or less 8 29 $50,001 to $100,000 4 14 $100,001 to $150,000 6 21 $150,001 to $200,000 3 11 $200,001 to $250,000 2 7 $250,001 and above 5 18
NS18.6 20-YEAR-OLD PRINT JOURNAL IS OFFERED ELECTRONICALLY
Lon Savage, Virginia Tech, SAVAGE@VTVM1.BITNET.
The Community Services CATALYST, a refereed print journal that has been serving community college educators for more than twenty years, henceforth will be distributed as an electronic journal in addition to its print version, its editor has announced.
Subscriptions to the electronic version of the journal are now available free of charge via Bitnet and the Internet, according to Dr. Darrel A. Clowes, editor of the journal and a member of the faculty at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Already, interested persons may receive the last two issues of the journal by entering an electronic subscription, and plans are to make all future issues, and perhaps all past issues, available electronically, as well.
The quarterly journal is published by the National Council on Community Services and Continuing Education, an affiliate council of the American Association of Community, Junior and Technical Colleges. The journal is being made available in its electronic form by the Scholarly Communications Project of Virginia Tech, which is seeking to explore some of the new frontiers in electronic communication of scholarly work.
CATALYST currently is distributed in its print form to dues-paying members of the Council, as a benefit of their membership, and to libraries and other non-members at subscription prices of $20 per year in the US, $25 outside the US. The journal has a paid circulation (including members) of approximately 1200. When offered via BITNET and the INTERNET, the journal has the potential of reaching many new readers worldwide.
It is believed to be one of the first traditional journals, distributed in print at subscription prices, to be offered electronically at no charge.
Clowes said the Council approved offering the journal electronically last summer. One reason for the action was to make the journal more readily accessible to academic libraries, an under-utilized market at this time. The Council is not concerned at this time that the electronic version may undercut paid print subscriptions, Clowes said, because most circulation is a function of members' dues. If the electronic version should prove to cost the journal significant numbers of paid subscriptions for the printed version, Clowes said the Council will address that situation at the time. The Council is a non-profit organization.
To subscribe to the electronic journal, one need send only the command "SUBSCRIBE CATALYST Firstname Lastname" [where Firstname Lastname are the first and last names of the individual subscriber] by electronic mail to the address: LISTSERV@VTVM1 on BITNET and LISTSERV@VTVM1.CC. VT.EDU on the Internet. Electronic subscribers will receive instructions on how to order a list of available articles, how to retrieve full texts of those articles, and how to cancel their subscriptions.
Electronic subscribers, in addition to having access to past issues of the journal, will be sent the Tables of Contents of future issues as those issues are published; the subscribers then may order full texts by electronic mail from their own computers of any and all articles they wish to read. Currently, all articles from Issues Number 3 and 4 of Volume 21 (1991) are available online. Consideration will be given to adding all articles from the remaining back issues to the archive. With all parts of the journal online, electronic subscribers anywhere in the world at any time of day or night would be able to obtain at their own computers full texts instantly of all the articles the journal has published.
To make access to the journal more manageable, access is provided to individual articles, rather than to entire issues. Interested readers, of course, may order all articles from an issue, on an individual basis.
CATALYST is reviewed and indexed in the CURRENT INDEX TO JOURNALS IN EDUCATION and in ERIC and is available in microfilm and microfiche from University Microfilms International. Articles submitted for publication are reviewed by the editorial staff and editorial board. Initiated in 1971, CATALYST is the second oldest continuously published journal in the community college field. It publishes practitioner-oriented articles on practices in continuing/community education as delivered by community colleges, including papers on research in the field. The journal is printed at Virginia Tech, a fact that makes it easier to coordinate the printed and electronic versions.
NS18.7 FROM THE MAILBOX
The mailbox is: TUTTLE@UNC.BITNET.
>From Fred Friend, University College London, (firstname.lastname@example.org): I am puzzled by Lelde Gilman's and Tony Stankus' worries about the future position of the US in the world of information. I agree that information and economic strength will probably increasingly be linked, but surely the key test is where the research is undertaken and where it is applied rather than where it is published. Is it not irrelevant whether for-profit publishers are based in Europe or the US? I do not think Europe is any stronger for having Elsevier, Pergamon and Springer based over here nor do I think the US is any weaker. They are international companies probably responsible to shareholders all over the world. However I do support the view that more research should be published by not-for-profit publishers, not for reasons of patriotism but because learned societies are responsible to their members (academics) and not to accountants or shareholders.
>From Cindy Hepfer, SUNY-Buffalo Health Sciences Library, (HSLCINDY@UBVM.BITNET):
There's an article entitled "Copyright Law Needs to Include 'Fair Use' for Course Materials" by Raymond Tackett (faculty-publishing coordinator for Kopies & More) in THE CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION v. 38, no. 23 (Feb. 12, 1992). In the article, Tackett describes how difficult it is for faculty to comply with copyright law and request permission to use articles or book chapters in course packets. He also discusses using Copright Clearance Center. If anyone in libraries is not already aware of this problem, it's a pretty good summary of the situation that exists.
>From Donna Lively, University of Texas at Arlington (B366DPL@UTARLVM1.BITNET):
About three years ago, I attended a certain conference in Oklahoma. There I listened, with growing dismay, to a certain dynamic speaker who had a lot to say about the serials pricing crisis and the role that certain European publishers were playing in goosing it along.
After his talk, I asked him, "Aren't they (European publishers) afraid of killing the goose who lays the golden egg? Pretty soon few libraries in the US will be able to afford their product. What will they do for business then?" He answered that he himself had put that very question to a representative of one of the Euro-biggies who smirked at him and said, "If you Americans can't afford us, the Japanese will."
As is typical with most Americans these days, I became immediately depressed at the mention of the Japanese (to the point where I wished to think no more of the matter, and tried not to for a long while after).
However, of late, I have begun to wonder if the Euro-biggie rep was not merely counting unhatched chickens. (Aesop is so useful.) The Japanese are known for adopting industrial and business practices that are proven to work extremely well. It seems unlikely that they would buy heavily into a highly expensive research and information delivery system whose cost-effectiveness and efficiency are so very debatable for the buyer. And if they are not aware of the serious drawbacks to this system, then, perhaps, we should be making serious efforts to so inform them.
>From James Mouw, University of Chicago, (email@example.com):
Just received on STBS letterhead.
27th January, 1992 Dear Subscriber, RE: PAYMENT OF 1992 US$ RENEWALS Since we sent you our August 1991 Annual Billing Invoice there has been a depreciation of the Dollar against the ECU. Our prices are linked to the ECU so to bring these values back into alignment we are increasing our prices by an average of 14.3% as from the 1st March 1992. Therefore a new invoice reflecting this increase will be sent to you on 1st Febru- ary 1992. However, you will still have until 28/2/92 to pay the original invoice at the old price. Yours Sincerely, J. Walker Subscription Operations Manager
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 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, CB #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.