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Re: Wellcome Trust report

Date: Fri, 11 Jun 2004 10:29:34 -0600
From: Margaret Landesman <margaret.landesman@library.utah.edu>
Subject: Re: Wellcome Trust report

Ann:  Would you forward this?  Margaret


My colleague has been working in Ethiopian academic libraries and her
Ethiopian colleague spent six months here.  They came to the opposite
conclusion - electronic works better for them.

The Ethiopian libraries have very few computers and intermittent online
access.  But they know that they can queue requests and print them when
the system is up, even if that's once a week.  (Their most urgent need is
for a generator so as to avoid several hours a day without electricity

But the postal system is so insecure and unreliable that they hand carry
books for ILL library to library.  And felt that even if they had any
acquisitions money - which they don't, they rely on gift materials - it
wouldn't work to subscribe because the paper copy just never arrives.

I think we need to distinguish between:
1) electronic as a medium for the end user and 
2) electronic as a way of transmitting texts

In many cases, a mixed model may be best - in this one, transmit
electronically but give to the end user in print.

Margaret Landesman
University of Utah

-----Original Message-----
[mailto:owner-liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu] On Behalf Of T Scott Plutchak
Sent: Thursday, June 10, 2004 7:55 PM
To: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
Subject: RE: Wellcome Trust report

A colleague of mine has spent the last two years setting up a medical
library in Nepal.  Her Internet access was unreliable enough that
electronic only is simply not a viable option -- she HAS to have print
until the third world telecommunications infrastructure has stabilized.

One of my Associate Directors has been serving as an advisor to a library
in Ghana -- same situation.  When he was there he could possibly email me
once a week, depending on whether or not the satellite phone was working.

I'm typing this on my laptop, sitting on my couch, connected via my
in-home, high-speed, wireless network.  It's easy to forget that much of
the world still does not have the kind of access that we tend to take for
granted. If a publisher is trying to serve a global market, it will be
required to supply print for customers in many parts of the world for some
years to come.  The problem is not that these folks ain't got religion;
they ain't got infrastructure. (Pardon my Alabamese...)

As the other posters on this thread have pointed out, as long as a
publisher has to provide SOME print, it can't reduce the fixed costs.
However, I wonder, for those of you who have access to the figures --
suppose you quit supplying print to customers in western Europe and North
America -- while that wouldn't eliminate your fixed costs, surely it would
reduce the marginal costs a great deal?  While the cost of each individual
additional copy is negligible, isn't there a point, in the aggregate,
where it starts to turn into real money?

T. Scott Plutchak
Director, Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences
University of Alabama at Birmingham