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RE: puzzled by self-archiving thread -- subscription cancellation comment

Libraries have been struggling with this problem since the 
beginning of e-journals.

In the portions of library systems where librarians are 
specificaly assigned as selectors for a manageble part of the 
collection, they are expected to see the incoming journals, and 
watch for availability notices, and also be aware through 
professional lists, conventions, and other means. (This had 
developed long before e- journals, because many publishers 
announced the availability of supplements and indexes only 
through a slip inserted in a journal issue--or even merely 
enclosed in the same envelope.)

Even the best selector cannot fully be aware of this in some of 
the larger fields, and relies on professional activities and 
faculty awareness.  Any library not able to have sufficient 
professional staff to actually know the collection will 
necessarily depend on the faculty and other users.  In the case 
of large publishers, the problem is indeed a little less because 
there are a few large obvious lists to check.

Libraries are also concerned with the problems of continuing 
access. Part of the problem arises because neither the receipt 
process for print issues, not the renewal process for 
subscriptions, takes account of online availability. (The only 
control anywhere in either process is that renewal usually does 
check that the print issues are actually arising).

There is furthermore no built-in check that a journal once 
activated continues to be accessible, except for user complaints, 
which are relatively uncommon except fo the most important 
journals. There is now an external check, from publisher-supplied 
statistics, assuming the library does check on titles with zero 
unrecorded use.  A library I know once forgot to activate a 
$15,000/year index, and only found out by this means.

The other half is the difficulty initially experienced in getting 
the publisher side to work. One publisher once simply turned 
everything off on Jan. 1, and then had a staff member start 
adding them back one at a time. This has become much better now, 
and the people at both ends know how to follow it up.

All of this will be one among the many advantages of open access. 
The entire serials control system in libraries, and the 
authorization system at publishers, will then be obsolete. It 
won't be among the major savings, but it should help at both 

David Goodman, Ph.D., M.L.S.

----- Original Message -----
From: Kathryn Earle <KEarle@bergpublishers.com>
Date: Monday, December 18, 2006 7:37 pm
Subject: RE: puzzled by self-archiving thread -- subscription cancellation comment
To: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu

> I do not feel qualified to comment on the impact of
> self-archiving on subscriptions, but, as a small independent
> publisher with a growing journals program, I would like to
> comment on the cancellation of journals due to non-use.
> We discovered some time back that a significant percentage of our
> institutional subscribers failed to activate their online access.
> (In our case these subscribers were entitled to online along with
> their print subscription.) The work involved at our end in
> systematically keeping tabs on this is considerable. However,
> given that non-activation results in non-use / high cost per use,
> and therefore subscription cancellation, it clearly needs to be
> high priority.
> At a recent trade show I met with a large journals publisher who
> said that they had experienced this too, so I don't see it as a
> problem that is specific to small publishers. However, larger
> publishers may have resources to police the process more
> vigorously. Also, larger publishers may disseminate content
> through a greater number of channels, which may help to elevate
> usage statistics when activation failure does occur. It would be
> a great shame if such failure was at the root of subscription
> cancellation for smaller publishers. I don't know that this
> happens -- but it sounds like a strong possibility.
> I for one would very much welcome any advice or comments people
> may have on this issue. I am new to this listserv and am finding
> it very useful because I understand the process at our end (I
> hope!) but confess to knowing little about the library end. I,
> for one, would welcome any opportunity to partner with libraries,
> as Ms. Landesman suggests, with the aim of reducing subscription
> cancellations.
> Kathryn Earle
> Managing Director
> Berg Publishers
> www.bergpublishers.com
> kearle@bergpublishers.com
> NEW journal from Berg! See the first issue FREE online!
> The Senses & Society
> http://www.bergpublishers.com/us/senses/senses_about.htm