Re: Institutional versus personal subscriptions Thomas, Susan Elaine 01 Jun 2006 15:17 UTC

Has anyone ever asked why libraries are asked to pay more in the first
place?  Why are publishers allowed to charge libraries more?  Is the
product that libraries receive somehow more enhanced than the individual
subscription?  Is it in a better binding?  Are libraries essentially
being asked to pay more for the same product because we never said no to
the higher rate in the first place?  Has anyone tried to say no to the
institutional rate?  What would happen?  Would the publisher say I am
not sending you the subscription?  What if we all said no collectively?

Understandably publishers are trying to make a profit.  When a library
subscribes to a title it MAY decrease the companies profit because it is
losing out on subscribers.  Does that justify asking libraries to pay
more for the same product? Is it not good will/charity/public service to
allow libraries to subscribe at the individual rate so those folks who
can't afford the subscriptions in the first place can access the
information and maybe some day when they can afford to, obtain their own
subscription?  I don't know of any library that has not struggled with
serials inflation issues in the past ten years.  In most cases our
budgets are not keeping up forcing many of us to go through massive
serials cancellation projects.  At this rate, publishers won't be able
to make a profit off of us anymore because most of us won't be able to
afford any subscriptions.

Why not begin a boycott of all titles charging an institutional rate
until publishers agree to not charge libraries more than 10% over an
individual subscription.  If teachers, pilots, union workers, etc. can
strike in order to be heard, then why can't libraries do the same?

I think if we really stop and think about this we will realize that in
the bigger scheme of things, it does not make any sense to ask us to pay
more for a subscription than the individual.  It's like asking us to
foot the bill for the good will and charity when all we are tying to do
is support access to information.  Somehow someone got it backward.

Susan E. Thomas
Head of Collection Development
Schurz Library
Indiana University South Bend
(574) 520-5500
-----Original Message-----
From: SERIALST: Serials in Libraries Discussion Forum
[mailto:SERIALST@LIST.UVM.EDU] On Behalf Of Pennington, Buddy D.
Sent: Wednesday, May 31, 2006 5:15 PM
Subject: Re: [SERIALST] Institutional versus personal subscriptions

Should have thought more about this before I opened my big mouth.

Yes, we should probably respect the price differential.  So we shouldn't
be systematically skirting the higher prices by relying on donations
from personal subscribers.  That's not what we do here at UMKC and I
apologize if that was what folks took away from my email.

Still, it would be interesting to know more about the legalities behind
differentiated pricing, donating issues, the "contractual" language used
in such journals as Journal of the History of the Neurosciences, etc.,

Buddy Pennington
Serial Acquisitions Librarian
UMKC - University Libraries
800 E. 51st Street
Kansas City, MO  64110
816-333-5584 (fax)

UMKC University Libraries: Connecting Learners to the World of Knowledge

-----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 3:24 PM
Subject: Re: [SERIALST] Institutional versus personal subscriptions

We tried persuading our
physicians to purchase institutional
with their monies so that
we could avoid legal problems.
However, the majority of them
balked at paying the usually
much higher price.

Lee Ann

-----Original Message-----
From: SERIALST: Serials in Libraries Discussion Forum
[mailto:SERIALST@LIST.UVM.EDU] On Behalf Of Susan Wishnetsky
Sent: Wednesday, May 31, 2006 3:14 PM
Subject: Re: [SERIALST] Institutional versus personal subscriptions

At 01:33 PM 5/31/2006, you wrote:
>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'.

Doesn't really address the legal issue, and I think Ms. Bluhm-Stieber is

right -- if the subscription will be available to all the patrons of a
library, the institutional rate should probably be paid.  But I'm no
expert on this.

As for the reliability of donors, well, there are occasional exceptions,

from whom we've gotten very, very close to complete runs over many years
of donations -- as good as we would've had with a subscription.  But
they are the rare exceptions.

Suppose the library were to share the cost of an institutional
subscription with a donor who was getting a personal subscription
anyway.  The donor would pay the cost of the personal subscription, the
library would pay the rest and provide institutional online access.
Perhaps this kind of "contract" would encourage the donor to be more
diligent about donating all the print issues, eventually if not
immediately.  The donor would get the benefit of IP-authenticated online
access, so they wouldn't have to fool

with personal passwords; perhaps that benefit would give them a sense of


Even if it worked, though, such small savings probably wouldn't be
enough to solve this library's budget problems.  And I imagine such
arrangements might cause other problems or extra work, too.  SW

>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

Susan Wishnetsky
Electronic Resources Librarian
Galter Health Sciences Library
The Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University
303 East Chicago Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60611-3008

(312) 503-9351
FAX (312) 503-1204