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The embargo debate: tenor and motivations

My two cents:
It's unfortunate, I think, that the current debate on embargoes seems to
be turning in to something of an Ebsco vs. ProQuest marketing debate. I'm
not sure I have a winning suggestion to address this. I think some of the
numbers and analysis recently presented are interesting and informative
but I hope the discussion is more generic and less "he said, she said" (or
rather: Ebsco said, ProQuest said....). I know vendor representatives have
biases -- and that's fine. I'm also sure they're writing the truth as they
know it, or at least are presenting their particular truths as they see
them and want them to be presented. OK.
The data IS informative but whatever the numbers, it is not that Ebsco is
the bad guy and ProQuest the good; or vice versa. Stating the obvious: it
is our job, as librarians, to evaluate the content of these databases, the
cost, the interface, the relevance to our needs AND the level and use of
embargoes (as well as other factors) to make the best possible selection
decisions for our institutions that we can make. We get paid for this.
Other than this, I would like to make one comment on the content of the
discussion. I find it logical that an aggregator, such as Ebsco or
ProQuest, would *not* prefer embargoes. This only makes business sense. If
I, as a vendor, could offer you a full text database where all the titles
have no embargo periods (and all the children are above average....) this
is a clear marketing and strategic advantage. I don't think any aggregator
would try to get titles with embargoes (unless there were cost factors
which would make an embargo-less title too expensive for inclusion
otherwise). I can readily understand, however, why *publishers* might
require embargoes of titles in aggregator databases. The motivations are
obvious. It would be nice to hear from publishers in this regard.
I do not, however, see the same logic and motivation with exclusivity
agreements. I can understand why aggregators would prefer and even recruit
for exclusive agreements with publishers -- as long as they felt it was
cost-effective relative to the value of the publication. I agree with
others who have expressed their concern about this development. Its
implications have concerns at several levels.
David Carlson Director of Libraries Bridgewater State College Bridgewater,
MA 02325 Work: 508-531-1256 Fax: 508-531-5255
 <mailto:dcarlson@bridgew.edu> dcarlson@bridgew.edu 
 <http://www.bridgew.edu/library> www.bridgew.edu/library