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Re: Guidelines for Journal Usage (James Huesmann) Marcia Tuttle 03 Jul 1996 17:51 UTC

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 3 Jul 1996 12:41:51 -0600
From: James Huesmann <huesmanj@LHL.LIB.MO.US>
Subject: Re: Guidelines for Journal Usage (Albert Henderson)

Sorry for the length, folks - I got on a roll!

>Never mind publishers. My question is do you sympathize with researchers,
>students and faculty? Does your library collection enable or limit their
>opportunities? Do the members of your university have a say in how the
>budget is drawn?

Al, Al,

        Being in a non-academic setting where we've cut very few journals
(but with a personal academic background) gives me a little more freedom
to respond to you.  Boy, are you in for it.  You are so far off the mark
it is becoming ridiculous.  Just who do you think you are having a
conversation with?  These folks are LIBRARIANS, for crying out loud.  You
seem to think that we LIKE canceling serial subscriptions (OK, there are a
couple of publishers..... ;-) ).  These folks entered this profession to
expand access to information - to do the opposite by canceling
subscriptions is analogous to a doctor performing a amputation to save the
life of a patient. Many of these folks are faculty themselves, even more
produce research, and _all_ have been students.  Do you REALLY think that
faculty members at a university DON'T have a voice, and that librarians
aren't listening to them? Wow, I could have saved myself countless hours
of meetings with faculty, students, etc., not to mention incredible
amounts of personal grief.

        Saying "Never mind publishers" is ludicrous - they are one of the
essential components of the scholarly communications cycle.  Publishers
aren't demons (well, most aren't ;-) ), and neither are librarians
heartless louts (well, most aren't ;-) Hey, turnabout is fair play!)
Publishers are human beings, many of them in a for-profit world.  They
have their own reasons for their actions, which may or may not coincide
with the rest of the players' interests.  The key is to find paradigms
which serve all the players' needs - a situation that we obviously do not
find ourselves in currently.

        From your point of view, usage studies are for the singular
purpose of canceling subscriptions.  Not so, and it doesn't take much
looking to find the many librarians who, in conjunction with faculty, have
used these studies to press university administrators (successfully!) for
additional funding, when use and/or institutional mission warranted it.
Not only are these studies important for cancellations and/or requests for
additional funding, but they also signal shifts in the faculty's research
areas (new interests, faculty turnover, etc. cause this.) When this
occurs, we need to review this information in conjunction with other
pieces of the puzzle (yes, including talking with the faculty!).
Resources are shifted to cover the literature in the new areas of research
and/or new journals in established disciplines.  The faculty I've worked
with WANTED usage studies - and were often surprised by it, not because it
was incorrect, but because it DID more accurately reflect what was being
used than their own, off-the-cuff, beliefs.

        Al, you hit it on the head with your outrage over parties, etc.,
being held with research monies while libraries' budgets were cut, but
missed the important point.  How do you think the librarians, faculty, and
students felt?  I've talked with all three from some of those notorious
examples, and _all_ were outraged.  Your line, "Please tell me who
demanded this money for library collections and was turned down", is very
interesting - I'm sure the majority of librarians and faculty out there
would LOVE to be in the situation where they could demand monies that the
federal government decided should be returned to the Treasury, almost as
much as if they could demand the money from their university

        Most librarians, many faculty, and some publishers, have faced the
facts, stopped moaning about them, and tried to come up with solutions.
I'm still bemused as to why you think ILL/Document Delivery options are
unfit solutions for faculty and students, yet turn around and state "The
academy has never asked for support appropriate for the use of its library
collections (Ever heard of LC, not to mention several different programs
from the Department of Education, several of which are in danger of (or
have been) cut?) -- which are heavily relied on by government, industry
and other off-campus researchers."  These folks in government and industry
use these collections via ILL/Document Delivery in a big way , especially
as most of their libraries have been eliminated or "downsized"  in a way
that make academic serial cuts look tame in comparison.  ILL/Document
Delivery is changing at a rapid pace - turn-around of hours, instead of
weeks, are now IN PLACE in many locations.  And do you really think that,
with the situation that the federal government finds itself, federal
research grants are going to continue to climb at the same rate?

        How about the numerous institutions which have few to no federal
grants, and whose institutional mission stresses teaching, not research?
Sorry, but in those cases, an undergraduate's use of the collection IS
more important than a faculty member's research.  (Although from your
comments you seem to be slanting your arguments toward research library
collections, you haven't said so, so I might be making an invalid
assumption.) The mission of the library HAS to match the mission of the
parent institution. If the institution's mission includes research in
selected areas, the library's collection should be more complete, to the
detriment of expensive, less-used titles in disciplines that play a lesser
role on campus.  Being a "research university" does not mean doing
research in all fields!

        The scholarly communication process is in the midst of a
transformation unseen within our lifetimes.  Reminding us of the
advantages of the preceding (and still current, for most fields) models is
useful, since many valuable lessons and features of that model need to be
retained. However, insistence on returning to the old model completely and
shutting off all progress does not work, neither in 17th century Japan nor
in the 21st century information age.  The question "Does your library
collection enable or limit their opportunities?", I submit, is no longer a
valid one. The _valid_ question is, "Does your library enable or limit
their opportunities?"  Sorry Al, but a library is far more than the
in-house collection, and that is becoming more and more true with every
passing day.

James Huesmann
Head, Technical and Automated Services
Linda Hall Library
5109 Cherry St.
Kansas City, MO 64110-2498
voice: (816) 926-8704
fax: (816) 926-8790