[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: Response to lib-license email

	As Gay Dannelly (original poster of Tom Sanville's message) is
unavailable today, I am posting Tom's general response to Mr. Michaelson's
message.  I will send my personal responses in a separate message.

	kent mulliner, Ohio University Libraries

>Hello all- I must at least make a few responses because I feel you are
>choosing to ignore or not give credit to anything we've said.
>Also distressing to me is the lack of anything resembling a broadscale
>solution on your part.  Flaws, problems, and questions notwithstanding our
>actions are a big step. You may think backward, we strongly think a forward
>one.  In our own discussions we conceed many "two-edged sword" issues such
>as you raise.  But so far our analysis supports, for us, the actions we've
>taken. as the best solution.
>I am also distressed by how much of the comments are based on a steady-state
>notion of information use and the library's role in delivering it.  Our
>actions assume that the capabilities of electronic delivery change things
>enormously and uncertainly. And that it is our task to take as much
>advantage as possible.  There are no neat solutions and that we are
>embarking on a highly uncertain EVOLUTIONARY process. What is your
>evolutionary path? In this email to eliminate redundancy I will essentially
>respond to some key points in both Bob's email and Lance Sultzbaugh's.
>At this point if you are not willing to conceed any of our arguments we
>might as well just agree to disagree. We'll see where we both are a few
>evolutionary steps down the road.
>Tom Sanville


At 12:11 PM 8/22/1999 EDT, you [Bob Michaelson] wrote:
>At 02:54 PM 8/18/99 -0400, Gay Dannelly wrote:
>>   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.
>When you give something for free, people will take it -- that is not a
>valid measure of its value.
>>   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).  
>Your solution is to push increased costs directly onto the State of Ohio,
>and since you don't see the bills for this you no longer think they
>>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
>This isn't coping, it is caving in -- but if the State is willing to pay
>the bills perhaps you don't care?
>>    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.
>[following is the message forwarded from Tom Sanville]:
>>>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
>>>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.
>This remains to be seen -- without open cost-benefit and
>cost-effectiveness studies, there is no way for the library community to
>critically evaluate your claims.
>>>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 all know about Bradford's Law and bibliometrics:  the most important
>titles will account for significantly more usage than will the second or
>third rate (or lower) titles. Logically, then, OhioLINK should have
>started by supplying electronic access to the most important titles:  
>American Physical Society, American Institute of Physics, Science, Nature,
>American Chemical Society, Royal Society of Chemistry, Journal of
>Biological Chemistry, etc. etc. Instead, OhioLINK started with Elsevier
>and Academic (which publish a few important titles but mostly second-tier
>or worse) and is only now starting to add _one_ of the major journal
>producers. Thus OhioLINK is in effect starting with the dregs -- this is
>cost-effectiveness?  This is cost-benefit?
>>> 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
>>>clearly at the cost-benefit.
>It would be interesting to learn how you are measuring benefit.  Number of
>journal articles supplied is not, by itself, a good measure of benefit,
>since it treats them all the same.  A serious benefit study would sample
>the dollar benefit to the end-users of the delivered articles. You would
>also want to look at cost-effectiveness: e.g. what would be the cost of
>delivering the same information by alternative means (ILL or document
>supply).  You would certainly want to determine the relative
>cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit of delivering Elsevier and Academic
>vs. delivering (for example) American Chemical Society titles -- in short,
>is the benefit obtained as great as the benefit in spending the same
>amount in some other (dare I say more logical) way?
>>> 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
>>>satisfied with using this internally up to this point.  There is now a
>>>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
>>>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:
>No doubt Elsevier and Academic gave OhioLINK significant reductions in
>pricing because they needed to get some highly visible users.  But there
>is no such thing as a free lunch -- they aren't being accomodating
>publishers, this is just a part of their cynical marketing strategy.  You
>are playing along with them; one result is that you can't give us real
>dollar figures -- there is no way to give us an analysis that we could
>critique. Moreover, the figures that you have aren't realistic, since they
>are based on the Elsevier/Academic "loss leader".
>>>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.
>But we know that they'd be better off with desktop delivery of more
>important titles (see above) -- quite apart from the fact that the
>selected, more important titles would cost the State less.
>>>2. Our annual statewide cost increases to electronically license all a
>>>publisher's titles to all of our schools are likely lower than most
>>>annual cost increase to maintain its specific selected subset of the
>>>publisher's titles. Basic math says greatly increased access and use
>>>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.
>So if you go into a store that has a huge 20%-off sale, and randomly spend
>$1 million, you've saved $250,000!! I'm being frivolous of course, but so
>are you.  A minor cost increase on a huge base-price, for material that is
>mostly of mediocre quality, is no bargain.  A larger cost increase on
>carefully-selected material, at a modest base price, can be a bargain.
>(BTW, the American Chemical Society is significantly _lowering_ its
>electronic journal surcharge for 2000. Those of us who buy their Option B
>package will actually be paying less money. This is a bargain on top of a
>>>3. We are less and less information rationers and more information
>>>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.
>Is your idea of responsible collection management to spend huge amounts of
>money to sweep in all the garbage that is published? That would be the
>ultimate "information enabler".  I would say that any library that almost
>never needs to get articles from outside the system is a library that has
>more money than sense.
>>>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.
>To be sure many libraries have been bad consumers. More significantly
>(IMO) many publishers, Elsevier prominent among them, have abused the
>academic market.  Abrogating our role as selectors is not a way to become
>better consumers; expecting the Elseviers to mend their ways because you
>abrogate that role is, in my opinion, foolish.
>>>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.
>Spending huge amounts of money without selection is a pretty poor way of
>thinking "out of the box", IMO. Wouldn't it be better to wait for
>Elsevier, Academic, etc. to offer title-by-title selectivity, and then
>create an electronic package of the titles that are most important for
>your audience (as well as most cost-effective)? What is the rush?  
>Wouldn't it be more cost-effective to offer a first-rate package (Science,
>AIP, ACS journals, even selected Elsevier titles) than to go with a
>decidedly mixed bag from the world's publishing cartels?
>>>At the same time I applaud the efforts of SPARC and others with alternative
>>>publishing models.  These too will bring pressure on existing publishers
>>>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.
>Users and librarians around the state see what they are getting, but they
>don't as readily see what they are not getting (lots of higher-quality
>journals), nor do they see what they, as taxpayers, are paying. Most of
>all they do not see the deleterious effect on the world of scholarly
>publishing -- until it is too late.
>Bob Michaelson
>Northwestern University Library
K. Mulliner       Collection Development Coordinator & Asst. to Dean
         "Owner"  CORMOSEA & cap-sea Electronic Mailing Lists

Ohio University Libraries    	Phone: 740-593-2707
Athens, OH 45701-2978, USA	FAX:    740-593-2708