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Rick Anderson said:"This is the essence of the tension between libraries
and publishers.  We want to give away what they want to sell."

I disagree with this analysis. Pat Schroeder would agree with Rick
Anderson. IF we didn't provide access to what we purchase we wouldn't have
a reason to exist. It isn't a matter of "give away" it is the sole reason
your library and mine exist, to provide support to our users for access to
resources.  Libraries want to pay an equitable and fair price for the
resources our users need to use. That is the "essence of the tension".  
Even Elsevier has admitted in the UK Competition Commission report that
their price increases for many years were above what could be justified by
inflation or page/cost increases of any sort.

The many millions of dollars libraries are paying for electronic access to
titles they may already have in paper, and are paying for access to titles
they would never buy in paper indicate we are attempting to purchase fair
access to a broad range of resources to support our constituents
information needs. At the same time most academic libraries realize that
the financial distortions in the marketplace are the result of the
behaviors of a very small number of large publishers. That is what we have
been protesting for over fifteen years, not because what they publish
isn't free. The impact of a few publishers on the system has been
devastating for all the other publishers (of both books and journals) and
for library collections. Libraries have failed, if at anything, in not
focusing on value based collecting-we were still purchasing concepts,
ideals,"coverage of the literature" when we should have been focusing on
what was actually being used by our constituents.  By buying second and
third rate journals with very little value but with high prices, we have
supported price gouging behavior from a few publishers. The real terror is
that we may be recreating the same system, i.e. high prices for support of
mediocre or worse journals and articles, in the electronic environment
just as we did in the paper environment. We are guilty of actively
supporting a system that has created outrageous prices for mediocre
journals. American librarians have done a disservice ultimately to
themselves, their users, and the rest of the world. We have to be vigilant
not to support continuing inefficiencies in the journal system. The
protests of NEJM behavior are part and parcel of that. It is a very
important resource and yes, most libraries that subscribe want to be able
to provide the electronic access that today's constitutents demand. That
is our tension with NEJM, not that we want it "free", though BMJ seems to
have been able to figure out how to survive by doing that, but that we
want reasonable access. Secret Passwords or hardwired ip addresses don't
do that.
Chuck Hamaker
UNC Charlotte