Re: Invoking Cloture (Again) on "Serials Crisis = Library Underfunding -- Albert Henderson Stephen Clark 25 Sep 2002 12:27 UTC

-------- Original Message --------
Date: Wed, 25 Sep 2002 06:56:24 -0400
From: Albert Henderson <>
Subject: Re: Invoking Cloture (Again) on "Serials Crisis = Library
   Underfunding -- Dan Lester

on Tue, 24 Sep 2002 Dan Lester <> wrote:

 > Tuesday, September 24, 2002, 6:52:28 AM, you wrote:
 > SC> From: Albert Henderson <>
 > SC> Subject: Re: Invoking Cloture (Again) on "Serials Crisis = Library
 > SC>    Underfunding -- Dan Lester
 > SC>  > Absolutely.  And we continue to do that to the best of our ability
 > SC>  > with the resources that we're given.  We DO continue to fight for
 > more
 > SC>  > resources.  When you come up with the magic method for getting
 > SC>  > legislators to give us more money, let me know.  We'll jointly
 > SC>  > it and we'll both retire fat and sassy, and have plenty of
money to
 > SC>  > give to our favorite libraries.
 > SC>         Well, it's not magic. Physicists, biologists,
 > SC>         and and others fight for more money successfully.
 > Of course they do.  They are doing "important" things like shooting
 > down enemy missiles, developing new strains of crops to better feed
 > the world, inventing new materials to improve our lives, and so forth.
 > Librarians are the "handmaidens of scholarship", to dredge up an old
 > chestnut, and even though not many of us have our hair up in buns, we
 > don't have a lot of luck with the campus powers when they know that
 > "everything you need to know is free on the internet".  The library is
 > like the computer center or the physical plant: they're all part of
 > the infrastructure that everyone takes for granted.

        Well, there's the problem. Libraries would not be
        taken for granted if libraries would demonstrate
        (a) how often they fail to satisfy patrons' needs
        and (b) how their failures undermine sponsored
        research and undergraduate studies.

        As a model, the Justice Departments supports police
        budgets with such failure (crime) statistics. Dean
        White pointed out some years ago in his LJ column.

        A dramatic failure occurred during the Cold War.
        National politicians sat up and took notice when the
        Soviet's launched Sputnik. There were Congressional
        hearings, Presidential panels, a national research
        program into dissemination, and so on. Moreover,
        major research library funding grew at that same
        pace as academic R&D -- what I call 'parity.'


 > Most important, in most states you have to convince some sort of
 > elected or politically appointed board, and ultimately the legislature
 > and governor, that education is good for the state, that it helps the
 > economy, and so forth.  Most of those people can't see past the next
 > budget year and will put the money into things that produce immediate
 > results, such as a new road, a new prison, tax incentives for a
 > company that will hire a thousand people in the next year, and so
 > forth.  It may be that this is a general condition in the country
 > these days, as most are more interested in their current finances
 > (such as whether or not they can remodel the house or buy a new car)
 > rather than their long term financial well being.  If it is true among
 > the taxpayers, it isn't surprising that it is the case with those they
 > elect.  People always want to know "what have you done for me lately",
 > not "what are you doing for me that will benefit me in the next decade
 > or two".

        The phrase "governmental waste" comes to mind.
        It resonates with all of us. Librarians as
        a professional group must make an issue of how
        good productivity in research and education depends
        on good dissemination. Otherwise, no one will ever
        hear about it.


 > SC>         Like physicists, librarians would be well served
 > SC>         by parity with other research spending. Do
 > SC>         librarians have a "science policy" advocacy? Is
 > SC>         there even a science policy statement?
 > If the answer to either of those questions is positive, I don't know
 > of such a policy or statement.  I'd be glad to be informed to the
 > contrary, of course.

        These rhetorical questions can be answered with
        a simple 'no.' I have been looking for such a
        statement for many years.

 > SC>         Advising legislators on these matters would be
 > SC>         the job of ACRL, ALA, ARL, SLA, MLA, and so on.
 > SC>         ALA/ACRL has a special office in Washington DC.
 > SC>         SLA is in Washington. ARL, which has an office in
 > SC>         Washington, collected data on the declining budget
 > SC>         allocations for libraries since 1980. What did
 > SC>         it do about it?
 > I know that ALA, ACRL, and ARL have lobbied in Washington, and have
 > spent significant numbers of dollars (including those from my 35
 > consecutive years of membership fees) on these things.  Like so many
 > things, it is hard to know if you're successful.  Maybe we'd be worse
 > off if they'd not lobbied.  Maybe they've done a lousy job.  Maybe it
 > is an impossible job.  I don't know.

        What have they done with all that money?

        Getting adequate financial support will continue
        to be an impossible job as long as the professional
        leadership fails to articulate the need to recognize
        libraries as a part of R&D, in terms of budgets and

 > SC> What has any of them done to
 > SC>         promote recognition of science libraries as
 > SC>         essential members of R&D efforts (therefore
 > SC>         spending)? Like Nero, library leadership has
 > SC>         fiddled while library spending was consumed by
 > SC>         every other interest group.
 > As noted above, I don't think it has been fiddling.  We've been
 > busting our collective asses on this, even when we don't know if it
 > has done us any good or not.

        I wouldn't defend them, particularly since we
        seem to agree they have no policy on science and
        no advocacy to support recognition of science
        libraries as part of R&D.

 > SC>         Until "spending parity" is on the associations'
 > SC>         official agendas, libraries and the career positions
 > SC>         of academic librarians will continue to deteriorate.
 > "Spending parity" with whom or what?  If you don't think we've come
 > a long way, check out the view from 1947.  It takes only ten minutes.

        It would be spending parity with academic R&D. R&D
        generates the 'information explosion' that libraries
        are expected to disseminate. Libraries enjoyed
        parity during the 1960s. They they fell far behind.
        Check out the graph in my article, "Science in the
        twilight zone; or, are science libraries related to
        science?  Issues in Science & Technology Librarianship.
        [No. 20, Fall. 1998]

        In spite of the support of many science leaders
        and politicians -- evidenced by the Science
        Policy Act of 1976, library leaders dropped the
        ball. ARL collected evidence of the decline of
        library funding -- but failed to release it in a
        timely way. The evidence indicates the leadership of
        the various associations never bothered to point out
        the essential role of libraries in cycle that uses
        information to produce new knowledge (although SLA
        published a helpful book by Donald W King). Instead
        of advocating adequate spending, we find enthusiasm
        for cutting budgets: lots of rationalizing about
        resource sharing, the promise of technology, "access
        not ownership," "just in time not just in case," and
        so on!

        Yes, it's easy to get the attention of policy people
        when you say you can cut costs. This is why I feel
        that the professional leadership in library science
        belongs to the 'enemies of the library' as described
        by Crawford and Gorman in FUTURE LIBRARIES. I think
        libraries deserve a leadership that can step up when
        the going gets tough.

        Thanks for your response.

        Best wishes,

Albert Henderson