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RE: puzzled by self-archiving thread

The question of "use" intrigues me, too. I find it very scary to think that the only criteria employed for cancelling journals are use and cost. Use here might be tantamount to sales in the domain of books. But I don't think any publisher, at least a university press, would judge success by sales alone. Some of our most important books-as judged by reviews, book prizes, etc.-have not been among our best sellers. The old adage that "controversy sells" is true. Hence we have seen such "successes" in book publishing as "The Bell Curve" and publications dealing with cold fusion, but no one would claim that the commercial success of these books is any true measure of the merits of the work being discussed. So, why should "use" be so determinative a criterion? Just because it is easily quantified and other measures are not?

When journals existed only in print, how did librarians evaluate use? Journals presumably are not as frequently checked out of libraries as books, but more often consulted on site. In electronic form, one can count "hits," but what do those hits signify? Something popular may not necessarily betoken good scholarship.

I understand that in the larger research libraries subject specialists are relied on (just as subject-specialist acquiring editors are in book publishing) to make judgments about the relative value of journals in a field, and faculty in the field are also consulted for their rankings. Those procedures seem to me much more likely to result in well-informed decisions about cancellation.

But smaller libraries can't afford such specialists (though they can still consult faculty). One wonders, then, why there haven't grown up practices of periodically reviewing periodicals? I know that the THES in the U.K. has provided such a valuable service for years. As I recall, Choice has done some of this, too, hasn't it? Is there any other library publication that provides this service? Perhaps this is a role that ARL or ACRL could perform, though with so many thousands of journals it is a daunting task, even if the journals were only assessed, say, every five years.

I plead ignorance here, and welcome instruction from you librarians, but as a publisher of 11 journals in the humanities, it bothers me to think that cancellations could occur just because of usage statistics alone. (I'm not worried about cost because our journals are cheap!)

--Sandy Thatcher
Penn State

 From: owner-liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu on behalf of Joseph J.
 EspositoSent: Mon 12/18/2006 7:00 PM
 To: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
 Subject: Re: puzzled by self-archiving thread

 Margaret, I believe, as David Prosser has asserted, that the
 hard evidence that OA results in cancellations does not exist.
 Publishers worry about this as something that could have an
 impact on them in the future, a point that Stevan Harnad
 apparently acknowledges.  There is, however, the question of what
 it means to cancel subscriptions based on "use."  Does the use of
 articles in repositories, on authors' Web sites, and elsewhere
 undermine the "count" for the official usage statistics? Perhaps.
 Or, perhaps not yet.

 In any event, I believe your closing comment ("I would wish this
 list might talk about ways libraries can partner with such
 publishers to find ways to change this situation") is right on

 Joe Esposito

 ----- Original Message -----
 From: "Margaret Landesman" <margaret.landesman@utah.edu>
 To: <liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu>
 Sent: Friday, December 15, 2006 2:03 PM
 Subject: puzzled by self-archiving thread

 Re: posts about self-archiving causing cancellations

 Busy as I am each year cancelling serials and cutting the book
 budget, I have not read these complete postings, nor have I
 done studies or read most of these studies.

 But I am puzzled.

 As we cancel journals, we rely on reports which show the number
 of uses, the costs, and the costs per use.  We have no reports
>> which show the journal's stance on IRs or whether it is OA
 after an embargo.  Do other libraries have such a thing?  We do
 not have this information in our ILS and it would be a very big
 job to put it there.

 If we know that the journal has a liberal stance, we exempt it
 from cancellation if possible - and we have done that with
 MUSE, BioOne, university press, etc journals in order to
 support those publishers.

 We are cancelling journals - both print and electronic - as fast
 as we can, generally on the grounds that they are:

 1) high cost-peruse, or
 2) not used

 We expect to go on doing this, probably forever.

 What has made me especially sad this year is that, very
 reluctantly, we have cancelled packages from university presses
 and smaller publishers because, after we have had them up for a
 number of years, they are showing no use.

 I would wish this list might talk about ways libraries can
 partner with such publishers to find ways to change this

 Margaret Landesman
 University of Utah