Re: Journal evaluation Jax John N 30 Aug 2002 21:27 UTC


The entire University of Wisconsin System is going through journal reductions and cuts vary from campus to campus.  Coordinated efforts were made to reduce statewide holdings of Elsevier titles.  Madison also targeted Wiley.  We have enjoyed a fairly healthy budget here at UW La Crosse, but now are in more of a "static state" were cuts have to be made.  This past fiscal year in addition to Elsevier titles, we targeted "no" or "low" use periodicals across all 34 departments.  Proposed cuts were then presented to the Library liaison network for deliberation.  We wanted to cut about $40,000, but in the end were only able to get about $23,000.  Faculty, unlike the majority of our student users, are reluctant to use the electronic format.  Some departments, like the sciences, love the e-journals and liberal arts based departments such as english or philosophy loathe them.  Other limiters were found in art and visually oriented disciplines where the electronic content in journals precluded transferring them.

However, the budget predicament remains and we have to either feed the inflationary black hole by robbing the monographic/electronic resources budget or make cutbacks.  We felt that use studies and educating the faculty were starts and for the most part this proved fruitful.  Wisconsin's budget looks okay for this FY, but extremely uncertain the next biennium due to tobacco money subsidy squandering and a proposed two billion dollar state budgetary shortfall.

I would like to find out how people are reacting to the flip pricing.  What choice do libraries have if they want tangible periodical holdings and not vapor trails that leave gaps.  Or meaning if we start switching to e-journal subscriptions to maximize our spending power and are forced to make cuts, libraries are then left without anything to show for their money?  The red carpet lease has done twice the harm.  Thus, does this mean libraries who are concerned about this will not only have to plan for the standard yearly rates of inflation increases, plus an additional double digit charge for print whereas before it was the other way around (print bundled with electronic)?  Publishers, thus far, we have dealt with are reluctant to make promises for e-journal access to back issues if a cancellation occurs.  More importantly, we see examples of publishers selling off titles left and right (even in more stable entities like Johns Hopkins Press - Project Muse).  Ongoing archival access is indeed a dilemma that publishers are just starting to tackle.

In light of all this, some service or services have to pick up the slack.  Our state has purchased ILIAD for the UW System colleges and universities.  Desk top delivery of journal articles will hopefully appeal and appease many.  There was an interesting article recently in The Bottom Line called "The Ever Changing Financial Focus on Serials Pricing" that talks about some of these debacles.  Perhaps reliance on upgraded aggregator databases like Osco's Premiere will have to be done.  We all know the precarious nature about this type of reliance.  But where else can you get such deep discounting on needed titles?  Another obvious solution would be to negotiate deals of a larger collaborative nature (bigger than just being a city, system, or state).  Maybe it is time to think about collaborative ventures amongst users across the nation?  We have been using OCLC for many years as a means to unite collections and resource sharing and a recent example for many might be the provision of 24 hour reference service through products like QuestionPoint?  Since reference service is seamlessly shared, it makes sense to have similar "core" publications and resources. (yet-another discussion - I know)  But who can organize such an endeavor?  Perhaps scanning of local print journal table of contents is of interest and creating some sort of localized database is an option?

In answer to your question about performing an annual review, I think in this day and age, it will become necessary.  Like I mentioned before, user surveys at our institution indicate that students overwhelmingly prefer the electronic to the print.  Faculty are more divided when questioned in liaison meetings.  However, in the course of this past year, I have found that several reluctant users of e-form have been positive towards this format.  Online degrees are playing bigger and bigger roles as well for us and the state, so it does make sense to have many in that format.

E-journals are coming with other joys now that affect workflow. Deal direct is becoming quite common.  Serial agents are being taken right out of the action.  Just look at the recent Sage example.  Tracking, processing, and statistical record keeping need to be pondered.

I think until publishers get their plans together, we will all suffer together.  We have known for years that the hybrid library was coming -- but not when to make the leap?  Part of me wants to jump into this full fledged.  The other half is holding back and saying -- "be cautious."  At some point in time there will so much value added content to electronic serials that the concession will have to be made.  Paper can not capture moving images, sound, etc.  You pose excellent questions.  Questions that if not asked mean we are not thinking about things and perhaps the publishers are?  Or vice versa.  Publishers are not oblivious to the market.  They know we can not afford everything and that yearly price increases and static budgets mean less purchases (I hope).

I am not sure I helped nor answered much, but it was a good exercise in thinking about things.


John Jax

John Jax
Collection and Resource Development Librarian
Murphy Library
1631 Pine Street
University of Wisconsin - La Crosse
La Crosse, WI  54601
(office) 608.785.8567  (fax) 608.785.8639

-----Original Message-----
From: Schleper, Susan P. [mailto:spschleper@STCLOUDSTATE.EDU]
Sent: Tuesday, August 27, 2002 11:41 AM
Subject: Journal evaluation

To Serialst:

As budgets shrink and journal prices rise - St. Cloud State University =
is trying to reconfigure how we access the journals we need to support =
the curriculum here.  One of the things that I am hoping to do is survey =
or contact in some way each of the colleges at our university to get =
some kind of feedback about what is useful to our faculty and what kind =
of compromises or adjustments they are willing to make so that our =
dollars will stretch further.

Has anyone on the list done this type of survey or serials evaluation?  =
We hope to make it an annual thing - taking one college (we have 5 =
academic colleges) each year and evaluating how we are doing with =
getting the journals they need.

As of now, I plan to develop a survey to get some idea of how faculty =
perceive the services in the serials dept. and accompany that with an =
"information packet" that would actually be an analysis of journals we =
get in print with information on their electronic counterpart.  One of =
the motivations for this is that our electronic holdings are used many =
time more than our print journals.  In addition, we spend about 3 times =
as much on print journals (about 1500 titles) as we do on electronic =
titles (about 15,000 titles). =20

I appreciate any feedback I can get from the list. =20

Susan Schleper
Serials Librarian
St. Cloud State University, MN