Re: Invoking Cloture (Again) on "Serials Crisis = Library Underfunding -- Dan Lester Stephen Clark 20 Sep 2002 17:55 UTC

-------- Original Message --------
Date: Fri, 20 Sep 2002 11:11:22 -0600
From: Dan Lester <>

Subject: Re: Invoking Cloture (Again) on "Serials Crisis = Library
         Underfunding -- Albert Henderson

Friday, September 20, 2002, 7:02:11 AM, you wrote:

SC> -------- Original Message --------
SC> Date: Thu, 19 Sep 2002 17:50:51 -0400
SC> From: Albert Henderson <>
SC>         I have been told repeatedly by faculty of public
SC>         institutions that any part of the budget that is
SC>         not spent goes back to the treasury.

That is true.  And as a result, institutions do their best to make
sure nothing goes back to the state general fund.  I've worked in
seven state universities in seven states, and such was true in all. I
believe it to be so in the other 43 states as well.  In some states
the university may be able to "roll over" a small amount in some or
all years, but those are generally quite limited.

SC> In these
SC>         institutions, it appears that endowments and
SC>         foundations are outside the university proper.

Yes, they are, for a variety of legal reasons, as prescribed by the
IRS and others.

SC>         Nonetheless, it would not be unreasonable to
SC>         challenge those universities that have cut
SC>         their library spending from 6 per cent to 3
SC>         in spite of endowments over $1 billion.

I think they are all challenged by their faculty, staff and students,
to say nothing of their broader constituencies. In public universities
in particular there is great pressure at present from taxpayers who
want tax cuts, particularly since so many of them are unemployed or
haven't seen raises recently.  Of course the same is true of those of
us who are public employees.  I've received no raise this year, and
don't expect any next year, though there is a little talk of a maximum
of two percent, which will probably never make it through the
legislature or the governor.  The university has had a 13 percent
budget cut, and the library has been partially protected, so that our
reduction is less.  This also goes along with a four percent increase
in enrollment.

I'm sure that the conditions in Idaho are not atypical.  At this point
we'd be happy to be where we were a couple of years ago, and don't
have any realistic hope of ever seeing six percent (which I don't
think we had even back in the "good old days" when I was still working
in another state.  Note that I'm not whining about any of this.  When
you've worked in the public sector for four decades you get used to
things bouncing around at the whim of the elected and the voters.

SC>         The institutional conflicts of interest are major.
SC>         In particular, how can the taxpayer trust agencies
SC>         that award research grants? They are managed by
SC>         individuals who expect research contractors to
SC>         hire them once their tour in the public sector ends.

98 percent of taxpayers don't know anything about agencies that award
research grants.  They do know about their property and sales taxes,
their mortgage or rent, their credit card debt, the cost of their
kid's college tuition, the cost of milk at Safeway or Albertsons or
Kroger.  They're clueless on most of the stuff that those of us on
this list know and worry about.  In the same way, most of us are
clueless about their conditions on the road crew or on the factory

SC>         As a result of the casual approach to information,
SC>         the preparation of research proposals is shallow
SC>         and peer review is ineffective -- as the death of
SC>         a research subject at Johns Hopkins demonstrates.

Well, that certainly isn't the fault of the libraries or librarians.
Scholar, heal thyself.

SC>         It seems to me that the services of a medical
SC>         librarian would have saved that life.

It might have.  And I'm sure it wasn't because there wasn't a
librarian available to help with the research, either. Again, scholar
or physician, heal thyself.

SC>         I treated the conflicts more extensively in an
SC>         article titled "Undermining Peer Review" in
SC>         SOCIETY [38(2):47-54. 2001]

Fine.  That, however, isn't the topic we're discussing, as far as I
can tell.

SC>         Yes they did! Publishers invested heavily in
SC>         review series, translations, and new journals
SC>         seeking to meet the needs of emerging specialties.

I agree with this.

SC>         The first electronic publishers were the
SC>         information services in the sciences, many
SC>         distributed by Lockheed Dialog. The citation
SC>         index was developed by Eugene Garfield and
SC>         sold as part of ISI a few years ago. The record
SC>         is quite clear on all these points.

And this.  (See, we're not always at odds, are we?)

However, publishers don't seem to be willing to kill off the journals
that aren't needed, don't have a market, or were bad business decisions
from the beginning.  A few do die, my favorite in my profession being
the Australasian Journal of Serials Librarianship, which probably told
how to check in journals while upside down on the bottom side of the
world.  But, many more certainly deserve to die, and if libraries
don't subscribe, or cancel, to some of the incredibly overpriced and
overspecialized journals, perhaps more will.

SC>         The function of libraries, selecting, conserving,
SC>         and disseminating the work of publishers is
SC>         also essential to productivity in research and
SC>         education.

Absolutely.  And we continue to do that to the best of our ability
with the resources that we're given.  We DO continue to fight for more
resources.  When you come up with the magic method for getting
legislators to give us more money, let me know.  We'll jointly patent
it and we'll both retire fat and sassy, and have plenty of money to
give to our favorite libraries.

SC>         Why would you oppose a demand for universities
SC>         to spend 6 percent of their budgets on libraries
SC>         as they once did?

I certainly don't oppose fighting for more money.  However, going to
an administrator or legislator and asking for a doubled budget would
get me laughed out of his office.  But I'd certainly ask for more, do
participate in our library association Legislative Day, participate in
the association, and so forth.  So far the results have been dismal,
but we keep tilting at the windmill, and will undoubtedly do so until
our last days.



Dan Lester, Data Wrangler 208-283-7711
3577 East Pecan, Boise, Idaho  83716-7115 USA  Stop Global Whining!