Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, May 12, 2007

More on the pricing crisis

Ashley Wiehle, SIUC library to cancel some serials, The Southern, May 12, 2007.  Excerpt:

Southern Illinois University Carbondale spends about $450,000 each year on books for the library - but that's pennies compared to money spent on academic journals and serials.
About 90 percent of the library's $5 million materials budget goes toward purchasing scholarly journals and magazines....

"Research at the university depends upon serials," said Susan Logue, associate dean for support services for Library Affairs. "Faculty depend on the journals to do their work and stay on top of their fields."

Logue is currently finishing a serials cancellation process, during which the library asked faculty members to choose from a list of the most expensive serials at the library which they absolutely must keep.

The library subscribes to about 30,000 titles, Logue said, and the price of the titles annually can run as high as $20,000....

Prices for serials can rise anywhere from 2 to 50 percent any given year, Logue said....

Although the library's $5 million budget hasn't decreased in recent years, it likewise hasn't risen, which means a decrease in buying power for the university, Logue said.

With only 10 percent of the library's budget going toward books, a 10 percent rise in the cost of serials - a realistic scenario, Logue said - could wipe out the library's entire budget for books.

"We've had to rob from the monograph (book) budgets to keep buying serials," Logue said....

Library staff put together a list of journals that have increased in 50 percent over the last five years....Those journals were put on the chopping block.  If faculty in each department determined they had to keep a journal on the cancellation list, the department was responsible for choosing a journal that could be cancelled instead, Logue said....

There are a number of organizations - notably the Association of Research Libraries and SPARC, the Scholarship Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition - that advocate a complete overhaul of the scholarly publishing industry.

Such organizations advocate open-access journals [and open-access archiving]...."Scholarly publishing initiatives are critical to changing the environment where research is published," Logue said.

Open-access journals with a rigorous peer-review system of research are cropping up, but it will be a slow process.

"I don't think the total solution to the problem is just to increase our budget," Logue said. "The solution to the problem is to break the cycle."