134.2 GINSPARG LOS ALAMOS PREPRINT ARCHIVE, Bernard Naylor
134.3 "TRAGIC LOSS OR GOOD RIDDANCE?" David Flaxbart
134.4 WEB VERSION OF ODLYZKO PAPER, Peter Graham
134.5 NEGOTIATING PRICES AND LICENSES FOR NETWORKED ELECTRONIC INFORMATION, Fred Friend
Daniel Jones, University of Texas Health Sciences Center, firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Received February 27, 1995. -ed.] It is budget time for most of us and for this reason it is useful to have price projections for 1996 serials subscription costs. I realize that the projections from the various vendors are preliminary and that much can change over the next few months when publishers make their final pricing decisions. But I am concerned at the lack of any public reaction from li- braries about the projections for 1996, however preliminary they may be. So let me start the response by giving my personal reaction: PUBLISHERS: I believe it is unrealistic for publishers to expect libraries to come up with 10+% more money for journal collections. Many libraries are facing reduced collection and staff budgets; a few are anticipating 2-3% cost of living increases. Publishers need to be more realistic in making prelimin- ary projections. The best way to assure another year of major cancellations is to let these preliminary projections stand for a few months. Because of this point, I can imagine there are a lot of libraries that have already begun the process of reviewing for cancellations. I suggest publishers should quickly reconsider their preliminary projections and discuss them with vendors. VENDORS: I think vendors should be cautious, too. Significant price increases could be seen as a windfall for vendors that figure their service fee as a per- centage of the invoice total. If prices go up 10%, how much more will the vendor have to do to handle the same number of journals for a library. Perhaps vendors should include in these preliminary projections the effect the price increase would have on their service charges. I would also urge vendors to go back to the publishers soon and get their revised projec- tions, because there is not much support these days for increasing library journal budgets by 10%.134.2 GINSPARG LOS ALAMOS PREPRINT ARCHIVE
Bernard Naylor, University of Southampton, email@example.com.
[Received February 7, 1995. -ed.] Some readers of NSPI will probably be familiar (more familiar than I, quite likely) with the electronic archive of preprint journal articles which Paul Ginsparg has established and maintains at the Los Alamos Research Centre. Initially devoted to articles in the subject area of high energy physics, it now accepts articles over a wider front in the physics subject disci- pline area. The archive is already large and growing quickly and it at- tracts a lot of accesses from the world-wide physics community every day. In some respects, Ginsparg's initiative is a practical expression of what, in my opinion, may be the likely future scenario for the communication of research findings. In particular, it is a subject based archive. However, some people find difficulty with the fact that it admits articles in ad- vance of peer review. They see the service as helpful in itself but still no more than a useful add-on to the more traditional route of peer review -- and even, perhaps, in some instances, of print on paper. Ever on the lookout for routes into the future of scholarly communication, I recently asked members of our local physics community whether they saw the Ginsparg archive as grounds for considering cancelling some of the physics journals we currently take. They showed no inclination to do that, and emphasized that they saw the archive as complementary to, not a substi- tution for, existing methods of communicating their results. The purpose of all this is to ask readers of NSPI whether the Ginsparg archive shows signs of affecting the willingness of scholars in high energy physics in their institutions to consider journal cancellations in that field. If not, do they have any perception of what scholars want, in addi- tion, before they feel the prop of the print-on-paper journal can safely be abandoned. I put this question in a genuine spirit of enquiry, and certain- ly not of exasperation. It seems to me that we may now be moving into a period when practical innovations out there on the net should be prompting us to ask practical critical questions, with important bearing for the future. Incidentally, I do appreciate that underlying this simple question is the thorny matter of payments to publishers. Quite likely, if they received evidence of impending large scale cancellation of their titles, they would withdraw the collaboration which they have (I understand) willingly exten- ded to the archive so far. That is a serious difficulty, but one which, in my view, lies next along the road, if a consensus should emerge that an archive like Ginsparg's, perhaps with some adjustments of detail, holds a key to the future. Do other readers of NSPI have any comments?134.3 "TRAGIC LOSS OR GOOD RIDDANCE?"
David Flaxbart, University of Texas, firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Received January 26, 1995. -ed.] I read with some bemusement the item in no. 131 by Andrew Odlyzko, promot- ing his essay-in-progress, "Tragic Loss or Good Riddance: the impending demise of traditional scholarly journals." Apart from being the only ad campaign I've seen for what is after all just another person's published opinion, I found a good deal of irony in the presentation of the access instructions. One's opinion of whether or not the alleged imminent disappearance of jour- nals is a "tragic loss" or a good thing may be affected by comparing the methods of access to Mr. Odlyzko's own piece. As published in a print jour- nal, the citation is merely two or three lines long, and can be understood by anyone. The document itself is only as far away as your library shelf, or your ILL office, depending. One need only be able to consult a catalog and/or fill out an ILL form. Low-tech, but effective. For "convenient" online access, however, the most recent directions for obtaining this document take up 42 lines of email text (four screens on my terminal), and require that the user know a fair amount about FTP, Post- Script decoding, decompression programs, URL protocols, and so on. It doesn't exactly take extensive programming knowledge, but even a relatively computer-literate person is likely to run into snags here and there in deciphering the instructions and retrieving the document in a readable form. Now, from the point of view of the average user, which method would he/she likely choose? I don't want to play down the importance of electronic ac- cess to information, but I can just picture myself trying to explain this mode of "access" to a befuddled patron at the reference desk. His/her reac- tion isn't going to be "Wow, that's neat." It's going to be more like "Well, I don't really need it that badly." And I won't be able to disagree. Before we pitch the printed journals onto the funeral pyre and toast their demise (which is a highly premature activity anyway), we as librarians need to think seriously about what we're offering users as a replacement. Not everyone is as eager as we are to get their information by surfing the Net, and until it's as simple as going to the shelf we're doing patrons a dis- service by telling them they should be. Too many questions remain unan- swered: patron needs, instruction, cataloging, reliability, preservation, data integrity, copyright, licensing, hardware/software availability, obso- lescence, and pricing, to name but a few. I'll think of these things as I read Mr. Odlyzko's article. If I can get it, that is.134.4 WEB VERSION OF ODLYZKO PAPER
Peter Graham, Rutgers University Libraries, email@example.com.
[Received January 25, 1995. -ed.] Readers wishing to locate a Web version of Andrew Odlyzko's paper, "Tragic Loss or Good Riddance," may find it directly at: http://hgiicm.tu-graz.ac.at:80/00C4039F/A0x00000081 The address given by Odlyzko is a high-level page for the virtual journal which requires going through a maze of only seemingly helpful other pages to find the darn thing.134.5 NEGOTIATING PRICES AND LICENSES FOR NETWORKED ELECTRONIC INFORMATION
Fred Friend, University College London, firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Received February 28, 1995. -ed.] I was interested to read the report of the discussion at ALA Midwinter (Newsletter no. 132) from the point of view of similar discussions on this side of the Atlantic. It is good that such discussions are taking place with publishers, and the work of Trisha Davis and her colleagues in estab- lishing an agreed framework for discussions on licenses will help us all. The pricing structure is obviously the most difficult issue. If publishers want us to subscribe to electronic journals, they should not be priced higher than the paper copy. I know that publishers have been investing heavily in the infrastructure to provide electronic products, but the pro- duction costs will certainly be lower for electronic than for paper jour- nals, and the infrastructure investment can be re-couped over several years. Librarians are certainly looking for a lower cost per use from elec- tronic publications but will not pay a higher up-front subscription without added benefits. I cannot see libraries subscribing to both paper and elec- tronic versions for long, so any pricing for that option may only be an interim arrangement. Publishers should understand that libraries have their own infrastructure costs associated with either paper or electronic re- ceipt. But let's keep talking!
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