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Re: Embargo Debate =

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 27 Jul 2001 10:49:01 -0500
From: Jill Emery <Jill.Emery@mail.uh.edu>
Subject: Embargo Debate

I have been following this thread for days and would like to offer my
opinions which are derived from my experiences as a
Collections/E-Resources Librarian at two different libraries.

At the Unviersity of Texas at Arlington, we had space issues to the point
we had begun to ship thousands of library materials to a warehouse in
another city within the State of Texas. The libraries' plan for a new
building was not realized and it became a necessity to look at the print
serials collection and cancel everything which could be received RELIABLY
in an electronic version. Where we could, we maintained our subscriptions
through our subscription vendor for electronic versions of print material.
There were a few University of Texas System contracts which had been
signed that forced us to move our subscriptions from the subscription
vendor to the publisher and this was an unfortunate move in many ways.
However, the publisher never lost any revenue from our making these
transitions and almost always gained profit from us doing so. Furthermore,
we never at any time cancelled print subscriptions because the titles were
represented in aggregated databases. We considered aggregated access to be
too volatile to depend on them as the sole access point for any one
subscription. From talking to various colleagues, this opinion continues
to dominate at least at the medium to large institutions within the State
of Texas.

I am now employed at the University of Houston Libraries, we also have
space issues and the promise of a new bulding on the way. We have not
cancelled much in the way of print due to electronic access to the same
titles. Not even in cases where, for space concerns, we could very well do
so. I would never recommend that a print subscription be cancelled in lieu
of access through an aggregator, no matter how good the aggregator's
reputation of maintaining consistent titles. I do not know many
librarians, who would.

The Texas Consortium, TexShare, has just signed an agreement for access to
a number of Ebsco databases and we are losing access to two major Proquest
databases during this transition. We consider this change to be an equal
exchange. Truth be told, the information services librarians prefer the
functionality and interfaces of the Ebsco databases to those of ProQuest.

At the same time we are looking at establishing electronic access to as
many of our print subscriptions as possible. For the first time we are
faced with having to explain large amounts of embargoed data to our
University and explain why known products have disappeared from our
webpages. However, we are trying to circumvent any discontent by allowing
electronic access to our print subscriptions where possible and providing
links into our online catalog from the Ebsco databases to assure our user
community that they still have the ability to access the information they

All this to say, I think librarians can live with embargoed data. This is
not the way we prefer aggregator databases to work but we consider
aggregators the icing on the electronic access cake. Perhaps in the
beginning of electronic access, aggregators were the only game in town but
now we have various ways to access material electronically.

As for exclusivity agreements, does this mean if I have a print
subscription to the Harvard Business Review, I cannot pay a slightly
higher subscription cost to have electronic access as well if Ebsco is not
my subscription vendor? Does this mean the only way to have electronic
access to this journal is to license this aggregated product? I'm still a
bit confused on this issue.

Lastly, I also think the ever-advancing functionality of our intergrated
library systems will one day make aggregator databases obsolete. I almost
wonder if this could be what the debate is all about, a current loss of
market-share and a dimming future all the way round for aggregated

Jill Emery
Director, Electronic Resources Program
University of Houston  
114 University Libraries
Houston, TX 77204-2000
713.743.9778 (fax)