Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Monday, April 03, 2006

More on the pricing crisis

Mark Pitsch, Libraries cut back: Universities struggle to afford academic journals, Courier-Journal (of Louisville, Kentucky), April 3, 2006. Excerpt:
University of Louisville medical professor Toni Miles said she sometimes can't get the latest scholarly information in her field, geriatrics. That's because the rising cost of academic journals and databases has forced U of L and other schools in Kentucky and nationwide to cut and forgo subscriptions, or to find more money by dipping into budgets for books, audiovisual materials and microfilm....Some [journals] are relatively inexpensive, such as Theatre Journal, which cost U of L $131 this year. But U of L is spending more than $21,000 a year on the Journal of Comparative Neurology....The University of Kentucky also has been hit by the cost of academic journals, removing 1,000 this year. "It's killing libraries," Carol P. Diedrichs, dean of libraries at UK, said of journal costs. At U of L, the increased cost of journals has led to cuts in book purchases, mostly in humanities and social sciences. This year rising journal prices have led to a $550,000 budget deficit, U of L officials said....Journal costs at U of L have risen from $5.4 million in 2000-01 to $7.2 million in 2004-05, the latest year available. During the same period, it spent less on new books, $1.2 million in 2004-05 compared with $2.2 million in 2000-01. U of L also spent less over the period on microfilm, audiovisual material and preservation. Journal costs at the University of Kentucky rose from $5.1 million to $6.8 million between 1999-2000 and 2004-05. During that period, yearly spending on books has fluctuated between $1.4 million and $2.6 million, including infusions of endowment money. Diedrichs said UK would like to subscribe to some journals and online databases that it can't afford. But she estimates she'll need $400,000 more next year just to prevent further journal cutbacks. Marty Rosen, director of library services at Indiana University Southeast, said his school has increased its access to academic journals. While it has reduced its print journal collection from 1,200 to about 800 in recent years because of rising costs, IUS has added 6,000 electronic journals, he said....Cutbacks on purchases of books, journals and other materials can interfere with student and faculty research and learning, experts say. "Libraries are able to provide access to less and less of the research that's produced, and that's slowing down the advance of research, whether it's health care, help to the local economy or pure research," said Karla Hahn, director of scholarly communication for the Association of Research Libraries, which includes the U of L and UK libraries. Hahn noted that quick access to research is especially important in medical fields. "If your research is working with patients, having to wait for access to an article is not a trivial issue," she said....Diedrichs said schools are encouraged to buy electronic journals in a package to save money, but that leaves libraries with less choice. "I'm forced to buy some of those I don't really want," Diedrichs said. Publishers also publish more research papers each year, leading to increased costs, said Karen Hunter, a vice president for Elsevier, which publishes about 1,800 journals and several academic databases. Hunter also said the publishers are in business to make money. "We know the difficulties our academic libraries have. Because if they can't afford the journals then they have to cancel, and that doesn't help anyone," she said.