Cutting Journal Costs: The Elsevier Subscription

Lee Hadden writes: "The Cornell University Library's "Issues in Scholarly Communications"
has an interesting article from November 12, 2003, on what steps the
Cornell University Library is taking to reduce journal costs and price
increases. See the article, "The Elsevier Subscription," and the
accompanying links, at their web site.

See their site at:"
Thanks to mcbride for the link as well.


Wow. That was keen.I wonder if this will be the start of something ... well, different. I know this is at least the second 'manifesto' publicly distributed by a major research university (I remember an open letter from Perkins Library at Duke University last year denouncing Bernan's customer service practices, but I'm not finding it online ...).And it's certainly timely: university endowments got hit really hard by the stock market swandive and a number of them are into their 3rd year of budget-cutting. Even if the economy goes nowhere but up, there may still be some painful choices to make in the upcoming fiscal years ...

Universities and University Libraries in conjunction with University Presses need to work to own and control the majority of scholarly publishing. Considering that the current commercial publishers are raping universities. If the Universities owned and controlled the content they could make a healthy profit while at the same time keeping the prices for the information affordable.

The are numerous articles in the library literature that expound this idea. University Librarians, make yourself relevant and take a leadership role in making this happen. (Statement is not intended to say that University Librarians are currently not relevant but that they can become even more relevant)

Faculty members become tied to certain journals because be published in certain journals is considered more prestigious and will help your career. The commercial publishers are aware of what journals have this distinction and they price accordingly. If librarians cancel these journals and then these journals are harder to access they will become less prestigious. New journals formed by university presses, that have a hard time getting content becasue they are not considered prestigious, will be given a benefit.

This is a great idea.I do wonder how much behind-the-scenes politicking it would require, though. The status of a university library is definitely a recruiting factor for faculty, grad students and visiting fellows (which is a factor in student recruitment). But how much pull a University Librarian would have, as much against that of a star faculty member, if push came to shove?From what little I understand of the Open Access movement, there are university libraries that want to take on this angle, as well as some faculty members. But it's a matter of getting enough faculty on board to reach critical mass and present a united front to the university administration to go through with the cancellations of these journal subscriptions.Please correct me if I'm incorrect or misstated something ...

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