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Response to lib-license email


   Following is a message from Tom Sanville that I am forwarding, with his
permission, in response to the email message from Bob Michaelson regarding
cancellation of Elsevier titles and Bob's comments about OhioLINK's lack
of cost benefit analysis.  As a member of OhioLINK and, probably, the
longest standing member of the consortium's collections committee I wanted
to be sure that a response was made to this list (and Tom has also replied
directly to Bob).  In my view, we are providing extensive access to a
broad array of titles that no single institution could afford.  In point
of fact, our last year's usage figures indicate that user behavior, when
provided with materials not previously available, changes dramatically.  
Our data at present is only 15 months long and it remains to be seen how
usage will change over a longer period of time.

   And we are all frustrated with the price increases we have seen from
the "usual suspects" over the past several years.  As a result, we find
our OhioLINK solution to be one way of dealing with the situation that
also allows greatly expanded access for the smaller institutions in
OhioLINK. OSU is clearly saving money both by avoiding paper subscriptions
that we would have had to place, seeing a decreased inflation factor and
decreasing reliance on ILL (Elsevier has consistently been our highest
borrowing ILL publisher for several years).  With the use data now
available we expect to begin a review of our paper subscriptions for
potential cancellation.  I think it's safe to say that OSU, in particular,
and OhioLINK are very pleased with the Electronic Journal Center as one
way of coping with commercial scholarly publishing.  Like Tom we are
encouraged by and interested in a variety of new publishing mechanisms of
which SPARC is only one.

    Now, if any wishes further discussion on this, I just want to notify
you that I will be away from the office and email for the next several
days, but perfectly happy to continue a discussion beginning next Tuesday.

Tom Sanville writes:

>Here is an amalgamated version of 2 emails I sent to directly to Bob
>Michaelson in response to his email  forwarded to me from lib-license.
>Please share this as you think necessary. The questions and issues are
>complex and my response through email can only dig so deep, but I hope it
>addresses questions raised adequately.
>I think assumptions about what the OhioLINK community has or hasn't done in
>terms of cost-benefit analysis should be made.  I am confident that you will
>be hard pressed to find any other group or library that has analyzed this as
>extensively as we have and to which analyses our library directors and
>collection development committee are privy.  Before even moving into this
>and other licenses an extensive amount of analysis and discussion was held
>before the community agreed to proceed.
>We opened up the electronic Journal Center in April 1998 with Elsevier and
>Academic Press. We added MUSE and are now adding Springer, Kluwer, Wiley,
>Am. Physical Society.  and more in the future. We have shared the usage of
>the system with our libraries and their directors know what our licenses
>call for economically. So we as a management community are able to look very
>clearly at the cost-benefit.  There is no rush to publish in that we only
>have 15 month's data in the bag. It continues to grow so rapidly and will be
>affected by additional publishers and links in our systems that we have been
>satisfied with using this internally up to this point.  There is now a draft
>paper reporting on our last year's use that may see light of day in a
>journal. Also I made a preliminary presentation at ALA on these results. Go
>to http://ala8.ala.org/ascla/cancel_program.html for a copy of my PowerPoint
>slides used.
>It remains to be seen what level of financial detail we provide in our
>public statements. Being on the front edge of this a certain amount of
>discretion must be applied.  But I will add the following for you since
>there is the  implication that we have not done our financial homework:
>In short so far:
>1. We are delivering  a dramatically greater volume and breadth of journal
>information than ever before across all our institutions- and with an
>increasing number of journals publishers - both profit and non-profit. The
>patrons at each of our universities use 2 to 5 times more titles
>electronically than they have ever had in print. And because it's
>patron-driven desktop delivery they do a  lot of it, over 430,000 downloads
>so far. Over half of the articles downloaded are from titles not available
>on the patron's campus.  Our smaller schools see totally new access at
>significant levels compared to the paltry print collections held in most.
>2. Our annual statewide cost increases to electronically license all a
>publisher's titles to all of our schools are likely lower than most schools'
>annual cost increase to maintain its specific selected subset of the
>publisher's titles. Basic math says greatly increased access and use divided
>by no change in expected cost is better cost-benefit than you have now.
>Even a small increase in expected cost is overwhelmed by the expanded
>breadth and volume of use.
>3. We are less and less information rationers and more information enablers,
>letting users select and use information of their choice with much greater
>ease. We are collecting comprehensive data on use by title and school which
>will help us long term to understand which of the publishers material we
>really need long term.
>I found that the email fails to recognize that there may be multiple ways to
>approach the problem and that the solutions are evolutionary. We are not
>wedded to any publisher forever.  But a problem that has been caused by
>years of bad buyer behavior which has allowed Elsevier  and other
>publishers, both profit and non-profit, to act as they have does not have
>simple solutions.
>There is no simple way out of this situation. The actions of OhioLINK and
>other groups and schools like U Toronto improve our ability to meet patron
>needs now, create an environment that increases information use, provide a
>better means to measure information use, and provide tools to better
>negotiate and change publisher behavior  in the future. With the status quo
>you have no idea what your patrons will really use in an electronic
>environment - we are beginning to find out. You must find a way out of
the box.  You must think evolutionary. We ask to license all the titles
>now so we can find out what we really need. This information will help us
>much more in the future than
>having no idea at all.
>At the same time I applaud the efforts of SPARC and others with alternative
>publishing models.  These too will bring pressure on existing publishers and
>help evolve to a better equilibrium of information access and economic
>One may not agree with what we are doing- but I think you are in error to
>conclude it is without merit. I'd talk to our librarians and users around
>the state and you may find out most think otherwise. Our solutions are not
>risk free and not without question marks. But IMO we will advance. learn,
>and redirect efforts as needed.
>Tom Sanville
>2455 North Star Rd. Suite 300
>Columbus, OH 43221
>614-728-3600 X322
Gay N. Dannelly
Assistant Director for Collections
 and Associate Professor
The Ohio State University Libraries
1858 Neil Avenue
Columbus, OH  43210-1286
614  292-4739
614  292-7859 (FAX)