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Re: Open Letter to Research Councils UK: Rebuttal of ALPSP Critique Hamaker, Chuck 24 Aug 2005 13:06 UTC

-----Original Message-----
From: SERIALST: Serials in Libraries Discussion Forum
[mailto:SERIALST@LIST.UVM.EDU] On Behalf Of Albert Henderson
Sent: Tuesday, August 23, 2005 8:46 PM
Subject: Re: [SERIALST] Open Letter to Research Councils UK: Rebuttal of
ALPSP Critique

on 23 Aug 2005 "Hamaker, Chuck" <cahamake@EMAIL.UNCC.EDU> wrote:

> As usual in mentioning LSU's cancellations Al Henderson mis-represents
> key elements of what was achieved. LSU subscribed to new journal
> AND enhanced access to other titles through unmediated document
> as a result of the cancellations. There was little evidence that the
> cancelled titles harmed the collection in any way.

	Congratulations to Chuck for making the
	best of a miserable, selfish management

	LSU financed its library appropriately
	for a voc-ag or trade school while getting
	federal research grants designed to
	generate more and more publications.

Throughout the early 80-'s LSU was actually in the top tier of library
materials funding in ARL libraries the top quarter as measured by its
membership on ALCT's "big heads" groups.

	Unlike any other research university that I
	reviewed, LSU held its library spending at
	zero growth, around $3.3 million for years
	while its sponsored research grew from $18
	to $68 million.

>From the 80's on, the library and state made major investments in two
areas. 1. computerization throughout the library and campus, pulling
wire, equipment, fiber optic, etc. In retrospect, this was a wise
investment that enhanced research support ultimately.  2. aggregator
databases on a statewide basis. What Al Henderson's numbers do not
reflect for the mid 90's is the statewide purchases and the increase in
resources for the whole state based on a major successful federal grant
which has since been annualized by the state legislature. These figures
were never in any individual library's budget as far as I know. In
addition, at the time 3 million was a respectable figure for any
academic library spending on materials budgets (and still is depending
on the institution). As a leader in statewide multi-type library
consortia, Louisiana did its best in a state where the budget is
counter-cyclical to the rest of the country.

	LSU's financial achievements as a 'research
	university'were at the expense of:

	(A) the commons, since its strategy caused
	subscription rates paid by other libraries
	to rise:
		1. because remaining subscribers
		had to share the burden,

This argument has been used a great deal by Al Henderson. There is
actually pretty good evidence that publishers priced based on
non-existent cancellations, on non-existent page increases, etc. In
projecting income in the future they assumed more cancellations than
actually occurred and more pages than they actually produced.

		2. by generating increased numbers
		of articles, adding to production.

LSU's output didn't seriously increase "production" issues overall. In
fact of the matter some major publishers routinely raised prices on
titles where they decreased production. (Pergamon journals were a
particular problem in this area) and then there was Gordon and Breach
which collected money far in advance of publication. The abuses by
publishers of the system are well documented and have been for 20 years.
Al's blame the libraries approach has been overwhelmed by contrary

	(B) serious researchers who were forced to
	find articles through secondary publications
	rather than browse each incoming issue --
	or to pay for their own subscriptions with
	grant monies.

I'm unaware of this being true for the campus as a whole or for
researchers on the campus individually. I think, given the high
visibility the serials reviews had on campus, and how participative the
process was (we met individually with each department to discuss the
processes) I would have learned if this were true. It was never raised
as a what you are making me do.  We actually got testimonials that we
had improved access to research sources through judicious cancellations,
table of contents services, unmediated document delivery and new
journals. The evidence is exactly the opposite of Al's conclusions:
cancellations stayed in budget, and supported the core literatures
necessary to support research. The two articles I referenced provide
evidence of the outcomes. The real question for large research libraries
was and still is are you spending too much on serials you don't need
when it comes to big commercial publishers. Recent usage data in the
electronic arena suggests many libraries are still over-purchasing with
"big deal" purchases in many collections. Phil Davis demonstrated this
conclusively with regards to the  Academic IDEAL package and NERL
libraries. My research at UNC Charlotte reported at the ASA in London
and cited in the UK Select Committee's Parliamentary report demonstrates
the same skew. A few key titles are being used to sell a lot of less
important titles. That principle doesn't vary, and has been used since
at least before World War II by publishers to push material that doesn't
have much value, while pricing it at premiums.

	Thanks for the comment.

	Best wishes,

Albert Henderson
(ABC-CLIO 2002

Chuck Hamaker
UNC Charlotte