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Trouble with usage studies (Albert Henderson) Marcia Tuttle 03 Jul 1996 12:29 UTC

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 2 Jul 1996 18:38:24 EDT
From: Albert Henderson <70244.1532@COMPUSERVE.COM>
Subject: Trouble with usage studies (Donna Lively)

Donna Lively writes:

> Faculty and researchers need to go to work to change the rules of
> tenure and advancement because the old ways no longer work.
> However, the practical research done by Chuck Hamaker of LSU suggests
> that the use of online services do work at present for the
> researchers, at least, at his institution.

LSU has the distinction of holding its materials expenditure under $3.4
million during years (1980-1991,1993-1995) when its Federal research
grants more than doubled. Chuck has done an excellent job of making
lemonade from a lemon. If I had tenure at LSU I would have been looking
for a job at an institution that would support its research and education
programs with an up-to-date library. Is this how you would deal with the
rules of tenure?

If I were on a Federal grants review panel, I would look twice at
proposals from an organization that does not have an up-to-date library
collection.  Inadequate preparation is the primary cause of unproductive

> Again, this may not
> continue, but it is not the  behavior of libraries that will drive
> this process.  Libraries and the institutions that support them
> can no longer afford the old ways, as they may come to no longer be
> able to afford the new.  We have been squeezed and squeezed and
> squeezed by publishers and the tenure system for years now, to the
> point, in our case, where close to 80% of our materials budget goes
> to serials.  We are now asked to cut 3% of our budget  and are
> also faced with having to cut to meet the projected 1997 serials
> inflation.  Have a heart?  Get real, sir.

You have been squeezed by university managers whose first priority has
been to get research grant money, whose secondary priority has been to
expand the bureaucracy, and whose last priority has been to provide
adequate library collections for research and education.  You are also
squeezed by preservation problems and by promoters urging you to invest
scarce resources in unproven electronic technologies that cost plenty and
have a very short shelf-life. Your situation has my complete sympathy.
However it is unfair to blame the publishers of PHYSICAL REVIEW for
instance, now exceeding 80,000 pages not including its LETTERS, for
keeping up with research in physics. They are not bad people.  The output
of research has continued to expand at the same growth rate observed for
over 300 years.

Vannevar Bush emphsized an obligation of the government to provide
adequate support for academic research. The academy has never asked for
support appropriate for the use of its library collections -- which are
heavily relied on by government, industry and other off-campus
researchers. Library collections are essential for the preparation and
review of proposals, articles, etc. The "library" factor approved for the
indirect costs of research has never been tailored to the role and use of
library collections by researchers; I would be surprised if any library
ever saw any of it.

A few years ago, a dozen big universities were cancelling journals all
over the place while they claimed indirect costs for parties, decorations,
real estate ventures, etc., etc. Millions of dollars that should have been
used to maintain collections were refunded to the Treasury! Please tell me
who demanded this money for library collections and was turned down.

Thanks for responding to my comment.