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RE: Journal Pricing, Electronic availability

Considering once more this ongoing question about the wisdom of
subscribing to all of a publisher's journals in electronic format, I don't
REALLY believe that we should go for quantity at the expense of
selectivity in what we provide. I have been lucky to come into a situation
where fiscal conservatism in the past now allows us to experiment with
electronic journals without sacrifices. We haven't had to cancel any print
journals to support electronic packages, but then our investment in STM
journals has been relatively modest. In readjusting some priorities, it
doesn't seem that adding new print journals is the way to go right now,
though we have shifted some funds to science bibliographers to help with
their inflation. In our case, using available funds to support many areas
at once in a splashy way works better than selectively enhancing certain
areas of the budget. I'm sure this isn't the only library where a
historical budgeting process has a big impact on acquisitions decisions.

To put things in perspective, here's what we're experimenting with:


o Elsevier, 1100 journals, through a consortial server, not SD (we have
  240 in print)
o Academic Press, 148 consortially held titles (we have 85 in print)
o ACM Core Digital Package, 23 (we have most in print)
o Kluwer, working on consortial access to all 340 titles (we have 58 in
o ACS, working on consortial access to all 27 titles (we have 22 in print
  & electronic)
o JSTOR, 130 (haven't checked the additions, but we had all but 2 of the
  1st stage titles)
o Muse (I think we have 24 of the 47 titles in print. Haven't looked at
  the expanded package)

Online with our print subs:

o AIP (30)
o IOP (17)
o Wiley (56)
o Springer (47)
o Annual Reviews (28)
o Other Highwire Press (the ones that are free with print, and free
  trials, maybe 35?)
o Oxford University Press (17)
o ECO "print subscriber program" (266 not counting the Academic Press
  titles we access there), 
o various publishers including Sage, Blackwell, Taylor & Francis, Carfax,
  Others in smaller numbers

All together we have a browsing list of 2,453 titles, including some
free-for-everyone journals. Trying to get and manage usage statistics is
the next big challenge. I'd like to hear from others who are working with
electronic journals on this scale. One advantage of publisher packages, if
you can afford them, is that they help you build the critical mass of
journals that you need in order to persuade users to try something new.

In response to Margaret Landesman's comment about pricing: "It is argued
by some that publishers will behave in a significatly different manner
with regard to pricing in the electronic environment - but I can't myself
see any reason why this should be so." I have an idea, though it is just a
guess. The changes that have had to take place within the business end of
publishing in order to provide electronic journals must be jolting for the
publishers. After so many years of doing one kind of business, they are in
a whole new world. A new generation of managers has had the opportunity to
prove their competence in making the transition, and they may also now
have the opportunity for the first time to participate in pricing
discussions. Some of them are more in touch with our world than the
decision-makers of the past. I may not be imagining this quite right, but
my point is that there must be shake-ups going on, and I think that
libraries now have the opportunity to better communicate our needs and
desires to the publishers. If we want them to listen, though, we have to
understand that they are in business to make a profit.

I realize that most libraries do not have the margin in their budgets to
do much experimenting with electronic journals. The reality is that
consortial deals are the only way that most libraries can afford to move
ahead, and participation in those deals limits your choices quite a bit. I
am hoping that by the time my library's budget cannot continue to support
the choices we've made, electronic journals will be providing enough
revenue that all the publishers will give us other pricing options that do
not depend on our print subscriptions. Or, that the present unworkable
situation will nourish the development and the acceptance of the radical
alternatives to scholarly publication that are being proposed and tried.
It is an interesting time to be a librarian.

Donnie Curtis
Director of Research Services
University of Nevada, Reno, Library