Re: Disappearing microform titles (Peter Picerno) Marcia Tuttle 12 Sep 2001 23:53 UTC

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 12 Sep 2001 11:47:40 -0500
From: Peter Picerno <ppicerno@UTMEM.EDU>
Subject: Re: Disappearing microform titles (Dan Lester)

        I feel compelled to add my support to what Mr. Lester says in his
reply to Mr Henderson. It seems to me that Mr Henderson has repeatedly
accused university administrators of secreting away vast hordes of money
which they are purposefully and malevolently taking from libraries (and
not from other campus departments as well?). As most of us who work in
libraries know, whether we are in state or private institutions, many
academic departments suffer equally with libraries in being under-funded,
under-staffed, under-recognized, etc., and few of them have the resources
they need, or would to have, in order to operate fully or well. One of the
realities of the world we live in is that academia, like the arts, it not
a capitalist, self-supporting, profit-making venture: funds must come from
endowments where that is possible (in the case of some state and many
private institutions), tuition, other student fees, state support, and
grants of various kinds. Historically the arts and education have not been

        Yet academia has become increasingly tied to a capitalist model
and is expected to generate income and be self-supporting to a greater
extent than ever before; and since this is a reality with which we have to
live, things like budget cuts, justifications for expenditures, and the
need to trim non-essential materials or facilities is a part of the
academic world -- for better or worse. Within this framework, then, it is
obvious that the immediate use and impact of library materials will be as
strong a criterion for their acquisition as will be their cost. And is
this bad, in any case? If we live in a truly capitalist world, and
information, like everything else, is a priced commodity, then we as the
'consumers' of this commodity have every right to refuse its acquisition
based on selection policies which are based on such criteria as price,
quality, and usefulness, regardless of it's impact on a library's "social
status." Librarians ought, indeed, are mandated, to select -- judiciously
and deliberately -- those sources of information which will most satisfy
the needs of the community which the institution supports. What this also
means is that publishers who increase prices year after year at a rate
which doubles or triples that of the cost of living, will beome
increasingly suspect -- as they should -- as to the essential usefulness
of their product. At a certain point, their product will either become too
costly in relation to its content or too esoteric and narrow for use and
libraries will find, perhaps reluctantly, that they don't need or can't
afford this particular product especially when weighed against other
products which may prove to be more cost-effective.

        Libraries are under no obligation to blindly and blithely acquire
everything that is published simply because it is published. That's what
the whole field of collection development, acquisitions, and serials is
about. The use of the word 'selection' in Selection Policy implies
scrutiny, evaluation, and decision. Since we live in an era where there is
more information available in more formats and with more immediacy than
ever before in the history of the world, "selection" becomes ever more
important because the stakes are higher than ever before. Unfettered and
unrestrained, a library could very easily become a black hole, insatiable
in its need for funds, staff, buildings, equipment, and other
infrastructures needed to support a gluttonous appetite for acquiring

       Libraries, even research libraries, I believe, exist first and
foremost to support the learning and research endeavors of the academic
communities which they serve. They do not, insofar as I know, exist solely
to devour, on speculation, every byte or page which commerical (and some
'learned society') publishers, who are, incidentally, strictly captialist
ventures, spew forth into the world of high-pressure telemarketing sales
persons whose livelihood depends on forcing their publications onto the
shelves of every library in civilization. Contrary to what Mr. Henderson
seems to indicate, neither libraries nor academia exists in order to keep
publshers in business. Like Mr. Lester, I would like Mr. Henderson to show
us the vast rooms of gold, silver, and dollars, which he alleges
university administrators are hiding away!

Peter V. Picerno

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 20:47:57 -0600
From: Dan Lester <>
Subject: Re: Disappearing microform titles (Albert Henderson

Monday, September 10, 2001, 6:05:03 PM, you wrote:

> Date: Mon, 10 Sep 2001 10:22:22 -0400
> From: Albert Henderson <chessNIC@COMPUSERVE.COM>

>         The institutions who wish to continue to claim the
>         social status accorded by having excellent cultural
>         resources better do it, even if it means dipping into
>         the misers' treasury.

I'd love to find where that special treasury is in a state supported

>         scratches the surface. There are at least three studies
>         that I can cite demonstrating that the major libraries
>         simply are not acquiring most new knowledge that
>         is published in academic disciplines. Moreover, the ACRL

True enough.  Not many of us would argue that.  As always, you keep
talking about these secret treasuries.  I suppose they may exist in
some wealthy private colleges, but they sure don't in state
institutions.  If you know where one is in Idaho, let me know and
we'll give you a finder's fee.

>         standards for college libraries once called for 6% of
>         general and educational expenditures to go to the library.
>         I never heard of any institution losing its accreditation
>         by not meeting that test.

The ACRL standards don't have anything to do with accreditation by the
regional accrediting agencies.  I believe all, and certainly most, of
the regional agencies have dropped quantitative measures for such.

> Nearly all should have been
>         red-tagged. Why was this and other finite measures dropped?

Because institutions that are otherwise considered excellent didn't
meet the magic numbers.

>         There is nothing lucrative about formats that libraries are
>         not buying. Most periodical publishers trash their overrun.

No argument.

>         You want them to maintain and continuously upgrade, probably
>         with multiple formats, for free.

I, at least, would be happy with only one format for scholarly
journals.  Electronic, in PDF or other pretty format, plus ASCII text
and any other ways that may be considered more "permanent".  No, ASCII
doesn't make it more expensive.

> Electronic technology does
>         not save money, as is pointed out repeatedly by Andrew W
>         Mellon Foundatation studies in TECHNOLOGY & SCHOLARLY
>         COMMUNICATION (Quandt & Ekman. U Calif Press).

It sure doesn't cost more.  It doesn't waste paper.  It doesn't waste
space.  It is easily distributed.  It is easily distributed on paper
for those who want print.

>         Library impoverishment is more lucrative for universities,
>         of course. By cutting library spending by a point, the
>         higher education institutsions added a point to surplus
>         revenues. Two more points to go.

Lucrative for universities my foot.  Where is all that lucre going?
Where will you find it?  Will you come to Idaho and find some for me
and my library?  Please?

Let's get away from talking about wealthy private universities and
talk about the majority of the real world, those that are supported by
taxpayers.  (NOTE, I'm not suggesting that private universities are
doing what you say....I don't know....I just know about the public


Dan Lester, Data Wrangler
3577 East Pecan, Boise, Idaho  83716-7115 USA  Stop Global Whining!