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Guidelines for Journal Usage (VERY LONG - Albert Henderson) Marcia Tuttle 08 Jul 1996 15:01 UTC

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 5 Jul 1996 16:13:10 EDT
From: Albert Henderson <70244.1532@COMPUSERVE.COM>
Subject: Guidelines for Journal Usage

I was very glad to see this post. It brings out some very good points and
permits me to clarify my position. - Al Henderson

 James Huesmann <huesmanj@LHL.LIB.MO.US> writes:

>>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?

>         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.

I want to make clear that I think that the UNIVERSITY POLICY MANAGERS (not
most librarians), who control the total amount of money budgeted for
libraries and other departments, have gotten away with turning a deaf ear
to faculty, researchers, students and librarians. They are SILENT PARTNERS
with librarians who so often have become obedient buffers, forced to
apologize for the unarticulated management policy of containing library
expenditures while having no real power in determining how much the
library shares in the total budget. More than one librarian has told me
the president has handed them a nonnegotiable figure each year.

We learned from the indirect cost audit that millions have gone for
administrative expenses that contribute little or nothing to research or
education while collection development needs go begging. Dept. of
Education figures show an enormous expansion of administrative
expenditures 1976-77 to 1992-93 offset by a sharp drop in the share of
spending done by libraries at U. S. universities!!!  It is a classical
example of Weberian administrative bureaucracies promoting themselves at
the expense of research, education, and public service. No I don't think
the faculty and librarians have an effective voice. I don't think they
realize that they often are defending policies of abuse.

The official voices of the faculty -- professional associations like the
American Chemical Society, American Mathematical Society and local faculty
senates -- have been silent on the questions of inadequate library funding
and excessive administrative expansion.  Association managers have told me
they do not intend to take a position on these matters. The Association of
Research Libraries to my knowledge has never taken a position critical of
university management. In particular it has collected but has not
published (except for a small sample released in April of 1993) extensive
statistics on most of its member libraries' share of university

>        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.

I don't feel that publishers' interests should concern librarians as much
as service to researchers, faculty, and students. Publishers have lots of
options not available to researchers. They can get out of research and
publish computer books or romance fiction instead. Many university presses
have expanded into publishing trade books for a popular audience.
Publishers have capped their editorial coverage; as a result, new
publishers emerge to fill these editorial gaps! Many publishers in
research extract very substantial subsidies from authors whose careers
depend on having their research published.

The reason I said never mind publishers is because I am particularly
concerned that the interests and concerns of researchers, faculty, and
students, are so rarely considered on this forum. I am concerned with my
impression that some librarians disregard or discount the input of
faculty. I am concerned about librarians trying to blame publishers,
rather than academic policy, for the increases in pages / prices generated
by increased research activity.

>         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.

I disagree with you insofar as published studies go. The predisposition to
justify and manage cancellations has often been articulated in the
introductory remarks of published usage studies that I have read (not that
I claim to have read them all). They are also methodologically sloppy and
manipulative. Many of the authors also appear to be unfamiliar with the
work of King, Garvey, Griffiths and other scientists who laid a foundation
for understanding how scientists use journals, libraries, and other
elements in communications.

>         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
> administrations!

Someone could have made the 5 o'clock news with this. The reponsibility
for filing such grievences properly belongs to the university presidents
and to the associations that are supposed to represent the interests of
members of the universities. At minimum they could have held a press
conference. They should have made a Federal case, filing for injunctive
relief. I have heard nothing of anyone asking why the misposted funds were
not used to adjust library budgets for the impact of the devalued dollar.
ARL was busy accusing publishers of profiteering and scholars of excessive
publishing!  ALA/RTSD passed a resolution on the impact of devaluation in
1987 -- before Congressman Dingell called for the audit. As far as I know,
nobody followed up. I would like to be wrong about this, but it looks to
me like nobody in a responsible position did anything to claim the
misposted funds for the collections.

In DAEDELUS (Fall 93) Donald Kennedy, who was at the center of that
particular storm, wrote briefly about the university "cost disease:"
adding non-academic professionals without having any plan to pay for them.
(I suggest that they paid them with "library" money.) He noted without any
elaboration that libraries are in bad shape.  In the entire issue devoted
to "The American Research University," (and the expanded version published
as a book by Johns Hopkins University Press) there is no other echo of the
serials crisis or any of the related concerns expressed by librarians and
researchers for some time!

The Federal policies for reimbursement of indirect costs of research are
heavily influenced by a relatively small group of presidents of
universities (many of whom were involved in the audit). According to the
lastest revision of Office of Management and Budget Circular A-21, the
"library" portion of these regulations is still under review. Therefore
responsible organizations may have a say in reforming it. (I provided OMB
with my recommendations last year. If anyone would like a copy, reply with
a postal address.) Hundreds of researchers have signed an ad hoc petition
urging the government to reform the library portion of indirect cost
reimbursement. Reform, however, will take the support of established
organizations as well.  Any librarian, researcher or teaching faculty who
belongs to any professional organization might consider how that
organization can act to inform the policy makers and influence the way
Federal science policy supports libraries.

>         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?

That's a good point. Researchers at government, business, and small
academic institutions depend on ARL-size libraries to supply what isn't
available locally.  What is the policy when a patron of an ARL-size
library causes CONTU guidelines to be exceeded? Does the library enter a
subscription or is it forced to send him/her packing?

Every interlibrary borrowing represents a measurable failure of the
collection. With ILB and doc delivery statistics skyrocketing, performance
failures in servicing non-citation directed searches can also be estimated
as skyrocketing.

If patrons truly use ILB for browsing, CONTU guidelines will be exceeded
quickly. The Texaco case focused on a scientist who had copied six
articles that he intended to read at some indefinite future date.  You
really cannot browse a database as you do a good collection. I can offer
the report of an entomologist who, after searching 7 major databases found
only half the literature on his chosen bug cited online. The rest of his
cites came from old-fashioned methods. I also think the typical card
catalog format used by most OPACs, which was designed for use where you
could walk over to the shelf and browse the book, needs an enormous
upgrading to incorporate indexes and tables of contents, illustrations,

Publishers have cut their print runs in half over the last 20 years. That
means that titles go out of print sooner and fewer copies are available in
libraries for use. ILL and doc delivery failure statistics have been

Science grants are not doing badly, although the policy establishment
still ignores the information resources used to prepare and review
proposals and reports. News of a tremendous increase for basic research by
the Japanese government may fuel more Congressional interest in research.
I don't think we are about to go back to the Mansfield Amendment and its
blind restriction on non-mission directed research.

>         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!

Yes, I have been talking about universities, particularly research
universities, because that is where most of the published usage studies
originate. They are also the hubs of interlibrary loans and other public
service use of library collections. These organizations have an obligation
to their members' programs if not to the public that depends on their
collections. More to the point, if you say, "the mission of the library
HAS to match the mission of the parent institution," then shouldn't you
say that changes in financial support for the library should match
research and instructional expenditures?

What is the role of the library according to university management? I have
been looking for a definitive statement by a university president of the
1980s or 1990s. The word "library" seems to be missing from their official
vocabulary. How do they justify university spending that generates
publications has far exceeded spending on collecting them. Is the policy,
"let somebody else do the collecting?"  I just wonder how these silent
partners justify bullying academic professionals into gutting the
intellectual infrastructure.

I was surprised and maybe even a little offended when I discovered that in
1989 the ACRL Standards for University Libraries had quietly dropped its
assertion that weak collections can hamper research. In my opinion, this
should have been widely debated among organizations representing
researchers, who have a major interest, before it was adopted.

>        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.

Yes, but this is only the latest excuse in 50 years of cutting library
collection growth that was interrupted briefly by the Sputnik thing.
Research publications have doubled three times in that period while major
library collections have doubled only twice. Library growth has been
substantially slower than it was before World War II. The ARL projected in
1992 that if current rates of decline in purchasing continue, by 2007
members would purchase no books and by 2017 would purchase no serials
either. They would "access" everything. PW quoted a librarian as
commenting that you can't borrow if no one owns it.

There is also a mountain of material that is not available by ILL,
document delivery or electronically.  What you call progress is too often
the subway or a carpool to a better site. I have been sent away from many
libraries in this way. The main progress in this area is a union list
online. For many researchers, myself included, electronic browsing options
cannot hold a candle to standing in the stacks of a good collection. It's
pretty sad when a scientist is unable to prepare a review article in his
specialty because the library has cancelled subscriptions to 'essential'
journals. It may also mean he cannot prepare research proposals either.  I
think that suggestions to replace well developed, up-to-date collections
with the electronic solution have been thoughtless and premature, often
articulated by people with no real personal experience with either
research or publishing. Studies such as PROJECT ELVYN and the experience
of the ASTROPHYSICAL JOURNAL LETTERS have not been encouraging in terms of
cost savings or user enthusiasm. I am more inclined to believe Crawford
and Gorman's analysis of what's useful in FUTURE LIBRARIES than the advice
of theorists and promoters:  technovandals and enemies of the library.

Because libraries have experienced such expensive preservation problems, I
also think that investing in fragile magnetic media (life 10 years) and
predictably obsolete software should be out of the question until the huge
and comparatively wealthy entertainment industry had shaken out the bugs.
It is likely that the options available today will be replaced as quickly
as they were introduced. WHY is the tiny academic enterprise gambling its
very scarce resources like a drunken sailor?

Obviously, I have embraced new technologies where they make sense or we
would not be engaged in this dialogue. But the elecronic stuff is extra,
not a replacement for most printed books, journals and vertical files. I
would not have replaced HEA Title II-A (college library materials) with
funding for technology; both are important.

Thanks again for responding. I will mail you some reprints.