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ICOLC in the Chronicle's Academe Today

Jane Holmquist of Princeton's Astronomy Library sends along the
following article.  The spirit of this draft does not quite match
the intentions of the ICOLC, in that the document intends to be
an invitation to dialog rather than a cry to arms.  The CHE may
have made some small corrections, upon request.  Watch for a fuller
story in the Chronicle down the line.

Ann Okerson, for Liblicense-l

Forwarded message:
Date: Fri, 27 Mar 1998 11:40:44 -0500
From: Jane Holmquist <>
Subject: Academe Today article

   [The Chronicle of Higher Education]

   Friday, March 27, 1998


   Libraries Call Academic-Publishing System
   'Dysfunctional' and Attack Price Policies


   An international group of 42 library consortia
   has issued a strongly worded statement calling
   for an end to the "excessive pricing" of
   electronic publications and for a complete
   rethinking of what the group says is a
   "dysfunctional" system of academic publications
   and tenure.

   The statement, released Wednesday and made
   available on the World-Wide Web, was sponsored by
   the International Coalition of Library Consortia,
   a group whose members first came together in
   early 1997 to share information about prices they
   have paid for new electronic products, such as
   archives of on-line journals. The coalition's
   members concluded that they needed to become more
   savvy in negotiating such deals with publishers.

   Authors of the statement said it was designed to
   be a "starting point for dialogue" among
   publishers and libraries -- two groups that have
   been increasingly at odds. Many librarians accuse
   publishers of price gouging and of unfairly
   limiting the libraries' ability to copy and
   redistribute information. Publishers say that
   libraries do not realize how expensive electronic
   materials can be to develop. Publishers also
   argue that they must protect their products from
   being distributed so freely that sales evaporate.

   Among the points raised in the statement:

      * Prices for subscriptions to electronic
        journals should be lower than the prices of
        the printed versions. "The savings accrued
        through the production of electronic
        information should, over time, be passed
        from the provider to the consumer," the
        statement says.

      * Publishers "should not engage in excessive
        pricing" when they are developing and
        experimenting with new on-line products.
        Publishers should not expect libraries to
        pay the entire costs of developing and
        marketing new products.

      * Libraries should have the option of
        purchasing access to issues of an electronic
        journal without also being required to pay
        for the printed version of the journal.

      * The scholarly-publication system is becoming
        "dysfunctional." Professors are rewarded
        with tenure based on the number of articles
        they have published, thereby creating
        incentives for the creation of more and more
        academic journals, which are consequently
        read by fewer and fewer people. Such a small
        demand for the journals leads to higher
        prices. Universities "must modify
        recognition and reward systems to create
        disincentives for unnecessary publication,"
        the statement says.

   Arnold Hirshon, vice-president for information
   resources at Lehigh University and one of four
   librarians who wrote the statement, said Thursday
   that the document was not an ultimatum to
   publishers. Rather, he said, it was an attempt to
   "be clear" about what libraries can and cannot
   pay for as more and more scholarly material
   becomes available electronically. "We're saying
   that during this period, it is important not to
   be locked into a pricing model that is difficult
   for libraries to afford."

   A list of the 42 library consortia may be found
   on the coalition's Web site.

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