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Re: Institutional versus personal subscriptions Ian Woodward 02 Jun 2006 17:58 UTC

"I think the question should be: Why are science libraries not
recognized in the nation's growing 	science R&D spending?"

Some years ago I attended a lecture by Francis Rourke, a political
scientist who specialized in the study of public administration.  He
explained that all of the attempts over a generation at incorporating
some sort of 'mind' into the process of public budgeting in the federal
government ("Planning, Programming, Budgeting System", "Management by
Objectives"; "Zero Base Budgeting") had failed and that the politicians
had defaulted to a policy of  making ad hoc adjustments (upward or
downward) to a 'baseline'.  That is certainly how my boss saw his tasks
during the years in which I was a government employee.  I do not imagine
it is much different with philanthropies, which also lack the
operational measures of competence that businesses have.  Taken
together, decisions on expenditures (by administrators or librarians)
may be ultimately arbitrary or driven by factors that the salient actors
themselves do not fully comprehend..

My institution is not Stanford, but our faculty have been expected, for
about thirty years now, to research and publish if they wished to
receive tenure or promotion.  Use by students tends to be concentrated
in the life sciences (in which I include general psychology), but is
considerable.  Your description of colleges and universities chronically
short-changing the purchase of scientific and technical literature makes
reference to a state-of-the-world I do not recognize.  If you look at
the distribution of use across our print and electronic resources, the
pattern of requests for items via inter-library loan and document
delivery, and the portfolio of unfulfilled subscription requests from
science faculty, you just do not see that picture.  Resources could be
more optimally deployed (any failures with regard to which are not the
associate provost's fault), but the utility of pegging library
expenditures to an index derived from nominal R & D spending or total
institutional spending is a dubious one.


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
Sent: Friday, June 02, 2006 10:22 AM
Subject: Re: [SERIALST] Institutional versus personal subscriptions

on 1 Jun 2006 Kim Maxwell <kmaxwell@MIT.EDU> wrote:

> I could easily be wrong about this, so please no one quote me.  But I
> the institutional price is the "real" price of the subscription, and
> individual price is deeply discounted so that individuals can purchase
> own copies.  If someone out there knows better than I, please do
correct me.

	Having studied prices of a number of publishers,
	I would say this is essentially correct. Projections
	forward are based on the institutional price. The
	member or individual prices need cover only the
	added cost of producing and mailing an additional

	Practical approaches to this theory may vary. ACS in
	the 1970s set its member prices at 1/4 the
	institutional prices. As a membership organization, it
	enforced anti-leakage of member copies as a member
	benefit with possible loss of membership as a penalty.

	ACS was sued by IRS, who claimed the discount was
	'inurement,' jeapordizing its nonprofit status. It
	was rumored that university lobbies were behind the
	IRS complaint.

	To make a long story short, the IRS lost.

	My analysis of the consequences, if the IRS had won,
	was that there would be no more subscriptions at the
	member price. In other words, the institutional price
	is the 'real' price.

On Behalf Of Thomas, Susan Elaine wrote:
> 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?

	The research universities that dominate spending
	on scientific journals started cutting their
	library budgets around 1970, resulting in
	thousands of subscription cancellations.

	Publishers, faced with exponential increases in
	journal articles, simply raised their rates to
	cover increased production + CPI + the declining
	value of the dollar.

	I think the question should be: Why are science
	libraries not recognized in the nation's growing
	science R&D spending?

	Best wishes,


Albert Henderson,