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Re: Institutional versus personal subscriptions Ian Woodward 01 Jun 2006 12:54 UTC

I would be skeptical that the publisher's bluster is legally binding or
that copyright law is implicated in accepting donations.  What is
occurring here is a phenomenon economists call 'third-degree price
discrimination' and is sustainable in circumstances where segments of
the consumer population (with distinct sets of preferences) are
discernable by the vendor and where a secondary market in a commodity is
impeded in its operations for one reason or another.  It is in the
economic interest of the publisher to do this, but an ethical principle
that would adjudicate in favor of one party or another in these sorts of
transactions is not immediately evident.  I would assume you are both
safe and within the boundaries of honor in accepting the donations, but
you might wish to research the U.S. Code and relevant case law during
your down-time on the reference desk.

The trouble as everyone else has pointed out is persuading faculty to
donate in a timely and regular manner.  Some years ago an administrator
with a law firm in Rochester explained to me the function of clerical
staff in such an enterprise, "Professional people are not organized.
They expect YOU to be organized for them."

If your collection is like those with which I have been familiar, there
is likely a great deal of dead inventory in it that can be identified
with your use statistics, so a fifty percent budget cut may
inconvenience your customers far less than one might expect.  Some years
ago I pulled the numbers on a particular bloc of electronic titles which
we were receiving, rank ordered them according to cost-per-use and
discovered (no surprise) that one-third of our expenditures was devoted
to titles which accounted for 7% of our use.

For best results,  librarians with the discretion over the purchase of
subscriptions have to be comfortable making use of quantitative data in
a systematic manner and willing to politely assert to faculty that they
as librarians are making optimal use of the institution's budget, that
they as librarians would be pleased to hear of an alternate and more
valid selection scheme if complaining faculty are aware of one, and that
the librarians will order those $16,000 Elsevier shelf ornaments to
please you  if we get a direct instruction from the provost to do so
(and we're gonna tell the rest of the faculty just what we are
cancelling in order to free up the necessary cash).

Best of luck.

I.  Woodward
Serials Office
Colgate University Libraries
201L McGregory Hall
13 Oak Drive
Hamilton, N.Y. 13346
Ph.:   315-228-7306
Fax:   315-228-7029
-----Original Message-----
From: SERIALST: Serials in Libraries Discussion Forum
[mailto:SERIALST@LIST.UVM.EDU] On Behalf Of Burns, Karen
Sent: Wednesday, May 31, 2006 3:10 PM
Subject: Re: [SERIALST] Institutional versus personal subscriptions

I have come across a few journals that specifically forbid you to do
with their titles; for example, the Journal of the History of the
Neurosciences states "Individuals must declare that the subscription is
their own private use, it will not replace any existing institutional
subscription, and that it will not be put at the disposal of any

Karen Burns
Serials Librarian
UHN Health Sciences Libraries
phone:  416-340-3429
fax:  416-340-4384
"To receive support and equitable treatment"

-----Original Message-----
From: SERIALST: Serials in Libraries Discussion Forum
[mailto:SERIALST@LIST.UVM.EDU]On Behalf Of Howlett, Lee Ann
Sent: Wednesday, May 31, 2006 2:34 PM
Subject: Re: [SERIALST] Institutional versus personal subscriptions

We've had various physicians do this for us
over the years by subscribing and then immediately
giving us the issue when it arrives.  Unfortunately,
it never seemed to work out.  We never managed to
obtain all of the issues for a volume from anyone.

People mean well when they offer to do this but, in my
experience, something always happens where they either
forget to send an issue on or they wanted to keep just
'that one'.

Lee Ann Howlett
Lee Ann Howlett, MA
Head, Serials, Dept.
Shimberg Health Sciences Library
University of South Florida
12901 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., MDC 31
Tampa, FL  33612
(813) 974-9080
(813) 974-7032 (fax)

-----Original Message-----
From: SERIALST: Serials in Libraries Discussion Forum
[mailto:SERIALST@LIST.UVM.EDU] On Behalf Of Bluhm-Stieber, Hella
Sent: Wednesday, May 31, 2006 12:27 PM
Subject: [SERIALST] Institutional versus personal subscriptions

Hello all,
We are facing severe budget cuts and need to cancel half of our journal
subscriptions. The suggestion was made to ask for donations from
physicians who subscribe to certain journals the library needs. We are
concerned about the legal implications of this. We explained to our
management that we think that this is against copyright law.
One problem is that the doctors can pay for subscriptions through their
educational fund, but cannot donate money from it.

We think that the donors would have to pay for an institutional copy in
order that we can use it in the library. I would be grateful for any
suggestions or documentation why this is o.k. or not o.k.

Thank you very much,
Hella Bluhm-Stieber

Hella Bluhm-Stieber, MLIS, AHIP
Medical Librarian
Milton J. Chatton Medical Library
Santa Clara Valley Health & Hospital System
751 S. Bascom Ave.
San Jose, CA 95128
(408) 885-5654
Fax (408) 885-5655

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