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Re: A question of licences and Alumni members

I am very concerned about the idea of lifelong access to our resources for
alumni.  Maybe it's because I'm a chemistry person and our databases are
among the most expensive despite the fact that we get substantial
discounts over the prices corporate users have to pay. I hardly think Chem
Abstracts or Beilstein Information Systems (or MDL or whatever they are
called these days) would like it if we continued to give access to our
chemistry students after they went off to jobs at Merck or Proctor and
Gamble, etc. or to other universities with less financial support for
library resources.  And, I doubt if we could come up with any more money
for these files should the vendors decide that we needed to pay corporate
prices since our users now include employees of other marketing targets.  
There's also the question of limited users.  If we have only 3 users for
all of Vanderbilt and we expend the service to alumni, it would be even
harder for Vandy students and faculty to get access than it is now.  I
agree that turning our students into life-long learners is a key and
worthy goal. There are good electronic resources that are free to all. We
need to teach our students about these and how they can support continued
involvement in learning - a few of these of interest to me and my students
would be PubScience, PubMed, NIST Chemistry WebBook, Toxnet files,
ChemFinder, etc.  I'm less familiar with the humanities and social science
resources, but I'm sure those exist as well.

It is good that institutions are working with vendors to settle some of
these questions and provide more access for some materials.  I just think
there are things for which wider access is appropriate and things for
which it isn't.

Kitty Porter
Stevenson Science & Engineering Library
419 21st Avenue South
Vanderbilt University
Nashville TN 37240
Phone: 615-343-7106
Fax:   615-343-7249
Email: porter@library.vanderbilt.edu


> Should we pay extra to offer access to our alumni?  You bet!  How much?  
> I don't know.  We need to see how much demand there would be for this
> access and develop pricing models accordingly.  Rather than run from the
> unknown, let's find out just how much demand there really is with the
> understanding that once we begin to market these services to our alumni,
> demand is likely to increase.  It is possible that we may be bringing
> additional business to our information providers.  I can't believe that
> any of them would turn away the chance for increased sales.
> I have already begun the process of meeting with database providers.  
> Most of them seem willing to extend resources to alumni, but want to take
> a cautious approach.  Some of them have products marketed to corporate
> customers and see expanded access to alumni through a library account as a
> potential threat to that income stream.  It may not be easy, but we will
> need to find the balance between the corporate market and the academic
> one.
> Alumni want access and we want to give them access.
> --Scott Wicks