Re: Invoking Cloture (Again) on "Serials Crisis = Library Underfunding" -- Albert Henderson Stephen Clark 19 Sep 2002 13:08 UTC

-------- Original Message --------
Date: Wed, 18 Sep 2002 18:00:04 -0400
From: Albert Henderson <>
Subject: Re: Invoking Cloture (Again) on "Serials Crisis = Library

Steven cannot help repeating his bizarre promise of a
financial windfall benefiting researchers despite his
unilateral 'cloture' in the discussion group that he
'moderates.' Each time he re-opens the door he
should expect my newly phrased response aiming to
illuminate the darker root of his project.

In answer to Jan Velterop's question, US Department of
Education statistics reflect a reduction of total
library spending by all higher education institutions
since 1976. The cut equals the increase in total
revenues less expenditures (which I call profitability).
That includes the so-called public institutions that
our mythology claims spend every nickle they receive.
These institutions report revenues and expenditures
through the National Center for Education Statistics.
Readers who do the ultimate calculations will find

I published a table summarizing these trends in my
article "Growth of printed literature in the
Twentieth Century" in SCHOLARLY PUBLISHING, edited by
Abel and Newlin. (Wiley. 2000. p. 8) Library spending
fell by one point while the surplus increased as much.

I also published these historical trends in the
supplemental graph that accompanies the online version
of my editorial in SCIENCE [289:242. 2000]

On the same URL, you will also find library spending
and profits of private research universities. According
to published data, these institutions appear to have cut
library spending in half, far more than the average of
all higher ed institutions!

More to the point, I believe that if library spending
had kept pace with R&D -- as it did in the post-Sputnik
decade -- journal publishers would have invested in
making the literature more completely available than it
will ever be in the anarchy of researchers self-publishing
various versions of their work. They also would have been
able to invest in summaries, indexes, reviews, comments,
and other aids to researchers confronted with a chaotic
and unmanagable flood of information.

Thanks for asking.

Albert Henderson

-------------Forwarded Message-----------------

September 1998 American Scientist Forum,

9/17/2002  5:12 PM

Re: Invoking Cloture (Again) on "Serials Crisis = Library Underfunding"

     [Moderator's Note. As Jan Velterop is relatively new to this, I have
      to point out that cloture means that no more discussion will be
      posted on this topic. (This is no reflection on Jan's excellent
      commentary!) Albert Henderson's Library-Underfunding-Conspiracy
      Hypothesis has been discussed endlessly on this list and nothing new
      has been said by its proponent in years. The relentless repetition
      has lately only been relieved by a rise in intemperateness (towards
      university administrations) on Albert's (usually good-natured)
      part (as I, Charlie-Brown-like, keep relenting now and then on
      Albert's postings, which are not always obviously headed back to
      the perennial football). But experience has repeatedly confirmed
      that, unstanched, the flow takes over all bandwidth, and it's
      always back down to Library-Underfunding, irrespective of what new
      possibilities the online medium may offer. The past discussion is all
      there, permanently, in the Amsci Forum Archives. That's enough. There
      is no need to keep re-enacting it year after year. Out of courtesy
      to Jan, I will exceptionally post his unexceptionable comment this
      time, but please, no more on this topic! If anyone really wants to
      keep discussing the Library-Underfunding-Conspiracy with Albert,
      they can email him directly. He maintains a Blind CC list of some or
      all of the Amsci list anyway, so, under his auspices, those people
      will be spammed with his replies whether they like it or not, but
      at least it won't go to the official list, or be archived. But I
      can't keep approving comments unless I let Albert reply, regardless
      of how predicatble his reply may be! -- S.H.]

Jan Velterop <>:

According to Albert Henderson "...the profitability of higher education
institutions in the U.S. increased by exactly the same amount that was
ruthlessly cut from library spending". Is that *all* or most of US HE
institutions, Mr Henderson?

Fortunately, the world of science doesn't begin and end in the US. The
overwhelming majority of HE institutions elsewhere are not in profit, or
anywhere near, and just cannot afford sufficient access to the scientific
literature at current price levels, indeed sometimes not even to what could
be seen as the essential basic scientific information. Is Mr Henderson
implying that scientific pursuits, or even efforts to improve health, the
environment, education, et cetera should not be for those without the
requisite wealth?

Scientists are not only the generators of the scientific literature, but
also the main beneficiaries of their publications. Maximum dissemination is
in their direct interest. They gain in terms of citations, feedback,
recognition, acknowledgement and that enhances their career prospects and
the prospects of continuing their research. It is not for nothing that they
don't get paid for their published research articles. The value of research
results for scientists lies not in the saleability of the research articles.
If possible they would broadcast their results.

The point is that that it now is possible. Full open access to primary
research literature is wholly logical and the only reason why it wasn't
there in the past was its physical impossibility. That's now remedied by the
existence of the internet. The *only* reason why publishers exist is the
need for 'stratification' and certification of the literature (quality
control, labelling, whatever you call it). Publishers, with their journals,
are the organisers of that stratification and certification. And some may
also find a role in facilitating open access in a professional way. That's
what they should earn their money with, not with creating artificial
scarcity of the information and the subsequent high prices that are typical
for scarce commodities. Of course, as long as they can get away with it,
they will. But Mr Henderson's indignation over the emergence of desirable
alternatives is little short of absurd.

Jan Velterop
Publisher, BioMed Central