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Re: Invoking Cloture (Again) on "Serials Crisis = Library Underfunding -- Albert Henderson Stephen Clark 20 Sep 2002 13:02 UTC

-------- Original Message --------
Date: Thu, 19 Sep 2002 17:50:51 -0400
From: Albert Henderson <>
Subject: Re: Invoking Cloture (Again) on "Serials Crisis = Library
   Underfunding -- Peter Picerno

on Thu, 19 Sep 2002 "Peter Picerno" <> wrote:

 > There are several statements in your response to Mr. Velterop's posting
 > which are interesting.
 > Regarding: "These institutions report revenues and expenditures
 > through the National Center for Education Statistics.
 > Readers who do the ultimate calculations will find
 > surpluses."
 > -- I do not think that it is anywhere implicit in either the
Constitution of
 > the USA, the charter of any educational institution, or any other
legal and
 > or official source which comes to mind that any institution of higher
 > education is under any obligation to spend every penny it receives. If it
 > were, what would happen in times such as these when endowments,
 > funds, university investments, and other non-budget sources of
 > revenue suffer declines and losses of capital basis because of the recent
 > economic downturn? I think that a surplus is a much wiser situation
than a
 > debt.

        I have been told repeatedly by faculty of public
        institutions that any part of the budget that is
        not spent goes back to the treasury. In these
        institutions, it appears that endowments and
        foundations are outside the university proper.

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

 > Regarding: " ... 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!"
 > -- Interesting that all the cuts in library spending do not seem to have
 > affected the viability of those institutions, their research, or their
 > academic reputations. Perhaps, after all, some of those VPs for finance
 > and Provosts have more wisdom than they are normally credited with! To
 > interpolate from Mr. Velterop: "Scientists are not only the generators
 > of  the scientific literature, but also the main beneficiaries of their
 > publications." So let them sow and reap their information crops without
 > the intervention of libraries and publishers! If there are even five
 > researchers at an institution who 'need' one very expensive journal, why
 > should they, their research grants, or their department, not subscribe
 > to it instead of breaking the library's budget with some staggering cost
 > for information which is of use to less than .01% of a university's
 > constituency? The internet, open access, electronic publishing, and
 > such, are really just a return to what learned societies did
 > before the emergence of journals and journal publishers: i.e.,
 > researchers with the same interests corresponded with one another
 > without the 'benefit' of publications. Lectures and papers were
 > presented at society meetings, important findings were distributed in
 > oftentimes privately published monographs.

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

        As a result of the casual approach to information,
        the preparation of research proposals is shallow
        and peer review is ineffective -- as the death of
        a research subject at Johns Hopkins demonstrates.
        The Chronicle of Higher Education wrote: "In
        particular, the office noted that researchers had
        'failed to obtain published literature about the
        known association between hexamethonium and lung
        toxicity' and that the substance was not currently
        approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
        for use in humans." <>
        It seems to me that the services of a medical
        librarian would have saved that life.

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

 > Regarding: "... 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."
 > -- But none of the publishers did that, did they??

        Yes they did! Publishers invested heavily in
        review series, translations, and new journals
        seeking to meet the needs of emerging specialties.
        The first electronic publishers were the
        information services in the sciences, many
        distributed by Lockheed Dialog. The citation
        index was developed by Eugene Garfield and
        sold as part of ISI a few years ago. The record
        is quite clear on all these points.

        The fact is that world research, to which US
        authors contribute less than 1/3, is indeed
        chaotic. Publishers have brought order by
        channelling information to suitable audiences
        by suitable means. They have underwritten the
        development of authors, editors, and referees.
        They set standards for selection, presentation
        and quality; they have invested in production
        and promotion; and they have disseminated
        information to those most interested.

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

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

Albert Henderson