I was reading our campus newsletter today and noted that one of our chemistry professors has recently had an article published in the Elsevier journal Tetrahedron Letters. Murphy Library used to subscribe to Tetrahedron Letters, but had to cancel it during the great periodicals cancellation project of 1995/96. At that time, a print subscription to Tetrahedron Letters cost the library $5,119. If we were to subscribe to this title today it would cost $13,487 for a print subscription.
The truly exciting thing is that because our level of full time equivalent (FTE) students is under 10,000, we can take advantage of Elsevier’s College Edition package. For less than what we would pay for a single print subscription to Tetrahedron Letters, we get access to 350 electronic subscriptions to Elsevier journals in the health and life sciences – including Tetrahedron Letters and many other good quality research journals.
While this news is exciting, we understand that if our student FTE were ever to top 10,000, this great deal would no longer be available to us. We would lose access to every last issue, every last title. So I’m not upset that the legislature did not fund the growth & access plan for UW-L. Unless the library gets a substantial budgetary infusion (in the range of $150,000 or so), we need to keep our student FTE under 10,000.
Sometimes I feel like a really cantankerous librarian, whining about how my periodicals budget has been cannibalized by extraordinary inflation costs and no cost of living increases from year to year. Lately, though, I get the feeling that I am not alone in my ranting. Please take a moment to read this post by James Council, Dean of Libraries at North Dakota State University on Academic Journals and the Publishers who Publish Them. Council mentions how the “…Max Planck Institute of Germany canceled 1200 Springer journals due to Springer’s refusal to negotiate reasonable prices.” This full story of how an institution just flat out WALKED AWAY from a publisher making ridiculously high profits is available at Peter Suber’s excellent blog, Open Access News.
Science (published by the non-profit AAAS) is pulling out of a 10-year agreement with JSTOR to host the Science’s archival backfile. The cost for UW-L to have access to the JSTOR collection that included Science (Health & General Sciences) would have been an initial $3,750, then $3,000 annually in maintenance costs. Only seven titles are included in this collection and Murphy Library simply couldn’t afford it. Apparently Science saw their inclusion in JSTOR, a non-profit entity, as cutting into their profits. Did I mention that AAAS is a non-profit? Libraries who purchased the JSTOR collection prior to 2007 will continue to access the Science backfile, although it will never include any content after 2002. Those libraries wishing access to the backfile archives of Science will have to purchase rights directly from AAAS. I wager that the cost for this access will not be cheap.
So why is this important? Libraries can no longer afford to subscribe to and archive print copies of journals. With budgets being stretched to the breaking point, electronic journals are simply more cost-effective. And it’s not just about the cost of binding and storing print subscriptions, it’s also about convenience. Users do not want the inconvenience of having to physically come to the library, look for issues on a shelf, and pay to photocopy the article. In a recent Chronicle of Higher Education article, librarians are said to be considering a move back to print journals. At this point, moving back to print journals would be like bringing back typewriters – a move that isn’t going to happen. A move that may happen – institutions canceling their subscriptions to Science.
We take interlibrary loan (ILL) requests very seriously. If an ILL request for a book comes in that’s within set collection parameters, instead of borrowing that book for you, we buy it (very, very quickly) and add it to our collection. In the same way, if we notice that 150 requests have come in for a journal, like Journal of Youth & Adolescence, we start a subscription. So, beginning in January 2008, the library will license access to content from 1997 to present for Journal of Youth & Adolescence. We are also starting a 2008 print subscription (it’s not yet available electronically) for Journal of College Counseling. Judging from the many ILL requests both these titles have generated, these new subscriptions will be money well spent.
Although they may not be available everyday, for now, daily issues of the New York Times are available in both Murphy’s Mug and in the vestibule. These newspapers are ones not picked up by distributors each morning and were being thrown in campus recycling bins. Although lately these “extra” copies have all been issues of the New York Times, other newspapers may be available as well. Stop by the library today and pick up today’s paper…and maybe a cup of coffee….and, of course, a cookie.
I hear a lot of complaints as a periodicals librarian and that is actually a good thing. In fact, I wish I heard more complaining. Here’s why. Today we got a call from a faculty member who was complaining that his class had been accessing a journal through the periodicals holdings search last spring, but that the access was gone now. Searching through our records, we realized that the title had gone from a print subscription to a microfilm only subscription back in 2003. How had this professor been able to access the title electronically? Turns out that the access was via one of our aggregator databases, ABI Inform/Global (ProQuest). Sometime this summer, ProQuest decided to split up the full text of this one title into three distinct access points. Unfortunately, neither our staff nor the staff of our link resolver (who is in charge of updating content from aggregator databases each month) was aware of this change. So, even though full text for this one title was really available from 1982 to present, our periodicals holdings search only showed access to one access point, 1986-1987. I manually went in and added access to the other two access points and the story ends happily. I relate this story to you all to illustrate the importance of hearing your complaints. Bring them on!
I get most of my information about open access issues from Peter Suber (former philosophy professor still associated with Earlham College), who writes a blog called, Open Access news. If you are interested in all in the myriad changes that scholarly communication is undergoing, please subscribe to Suber’s blog. Suber writes today about some interesting developments over at American Chemical Society. ACS employees have been involved in some whistle blowing about the increasingly corporate behavior of ACS executives and their anti-open access stance. Read the full account here. Conflict of interest, anyone?
Taylor & Francis has joined the open access movement. Many of its journals now give authors the option of paying to have their articles published open access. The cost to authors for granting open access rights to one article is staggering at $3100. I wonder how many authors will go this route, but it’s another step down the road in this ever changing world of scholarly communication. Do you publish in Taylor & Francis journals? Be sure to check out iOpenAccess.
Murphy Library subscribes to this title, so you may not have realized it without me going ahead and just telling you: The 2007 Annual Reveiw of Anthropology is available open access. Free to the world. Thank you Annual reviews!
PhysMath Central, BioMed Central’s open access publishing platform for the fields of physics, mathematics and computer science, today announced that PMC Physics A, the first PhysMath Central journal, has published its first research articles. The articles included a groundbreaking study that could change the way physicists understand dark matter.