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RE: AAUP Statement on Open Access

I am also a long time fan of Colin Day's work.  There is a 
problem in the discussion of University libraries and presses, 
however.  While the libraries of all colleges and universities 
consume the books and journals published by university presses to 
some degree, only a small share of the colleges and universities 
provide the services of university presses to the scholarly 
community.  This is particularly important as these services tend 
to be subsidized by the institutions which provide them.  Thus 
there is a need for analysis of who provides how much to the 
institution of scholarly communication, but there is likely to be 
a 'free loader' aspect to this world as well as a 'public good' 
aspect.  How to provide the proper balance of providing broad 
access to scholarly works and funding for them is a problem we 
have not yet resolved.

Mary Summerfield
Director, Business Development
Journals Division
University of Chicago Press
Chicago, IL   60637
E-mail: msummerfield@press.uchicago.edu
Net: www.journals.uchicago.edu

-----Original Message-----
[mailto:owner-liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu] On Behalf Of Sandy Thatcher
Sent: Monday, March 12, 2007 8:45 PM
To: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
Subject: re: AAUP Statement on Open Access

[I have just posted the following to the AAUP directors' 
listserv, but thought it would be of interest to this list as 
well, given the subject matter.]

In thinking further about OA, I have come across an article by 
Colin Day that I recommend highly to all of you: 
("Economics of Electronic Publishing"). It appears in the 
open-access Journal of Electronic Publishing that he founded at 
Michigan when he was director there.

I have always found Colin's writing about our industry among the 
most insightful and stimulating. I frequently cite his JEP paper 
(originally delivered at an AAUP/ARL/ACLS conference in 1997) 
comparing the costs of electronic and print publishing as the 
best answer to those Pollyannas who see e-publishing as vastly 
cheaper than traditional publishing: 

In this even earlier paper, Colin as usual proved himself way 
ahead of the curve in analyzing our business. As probably the 
only trained economist among university press directors, he can 
help us all with insights from economic theory, and here he 
particularly zeroes in on the theory of public goods, which is a 
framework that the recent ACLS Report on cyberinfrastructure also 
invoked (without providing as illuminating a discussion as Colin 
provides in this article). His paper compares how presses and 
libraries each have a role in adding value to the system of 
scholarly communication in the different but complementary ways 
they perform the functions of gathering, selecting, enhancing, 
and informing. Toward the end he raises a question that is on 
many of our minds today: just how might presses and libraries 
fruitfully collaborate, along with faculty, to confront the 
challenges we all face today?

I quote a few remarks to tantalize you and spur you to reading 
the full article:

"...whether making decisions based purely on market criteria is 
wise for intellectual and culturally important services and 
goods. Subsidization of music and theater by both government and 
private donors certainly suggests a pervasive belief (but sadly 
not universal) that some things are too central to our culture to 
be left to the Darwinian struggle of the market place.... First I 
should return to the basic problem: one entity is worried about 
cost recovery [university presses], while another entity is 
worried about the impact of increasing prices on its budget 
[libraries]. In most cases of this general kind, the two entities 
are distinct and distant, we therefore need a solution that works 
through a market-type mechanism to a solution that ensures, at 
least viability for each entity and moves us to a position that 
minimizes social costs and maximizes social benefits. Amazingly 
one can in many instances devise solutions that approximate to 
those objectives.

"However, in the particular situation that we are considering and 
in which we are involved, we can cut through many of those 
complications: the main participants are already under common 
ownership. University presses and libraries and the faculty they 
both serve are all part of the same institution -- the 
university. Yet a model has become established in which presses 
relate very much at arms length with libraries. The prevailing 
mindset is a customer-supplier one. In other words we have mutual 
ownership but seek none of the benefits that mutual ownership 
should give us....

"I am not going to provide a full solution here. It is something 
that needs more thought and discussion, indeed mutual discussion, 
to define suitable arrangements but the essential first step is 
that libraries and presses on individual campuses begin to think 
about their problems in a system-wide way. Individual pursuit of 
solutions to problems perceived in the narrow can combine to 
perverse solutions. Those of you who read The Fifth Discipline by 
Peter Senge will recognize a point that he makes and makes most 
persuasively: one must think of the whole system and not separate 
units of the system."

That last is a sentiment I wholeheartedly endorse. Indeed, at the 
same 1997 conference where Colin presented the other paper I have 
cited above, I gave a talk titled "Thinking Systematically about 
Scholarly Communication."  One of the points I raised there-the 
tension that exists between librarians' "rational" decisions not 
to buy revised dissertations and promotion-and-tenure committees' 
"rational" decision to require one or two books of junior faculty 
as a basis for tenure-is still very much with us and, though 
briefly noted in the recent MLA Report, still cries out for a 
system-wide solution.

P.S. On Colin's article, I would also note that he wrote it in a 
pre-Google era. Thus, what he says about the "gathering" function 
would need to be suitably qualified.

Sanford G. Thatcher, Director
Penn State University Press