Libraries to share journals

By Kelly Canright

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Dramatic increases in journal prices have forced the UA Library into a research-sharing arrangement with Arizona's two other universities.

Because the prices have skyrocketed, the University of Arizona cannot afford to keep all its subscriptions, said Carla Stoffle, library dean.

"Journals have accepted more and more publications and are becoming more and more specialized," she said.

Stoffle said journals "come out twice a year or more, with multiple articles written by separate researchers and scholars." New research findings are usual topics of most journals.

"The basic issue in scholarly communication is that universities cannot afford the current knowledge transfer system and will not be able to afford to take full advantage of the potential inherent in the new information technologies," Stoffle said.

"We've made research sharing agreements with NAU and ASU. We have identified certain journals we will save for one another and we have purchased inter-library loan hardware," Stoffle said.

"In 1992 the three library deans and the three presidents signed a cooperative collection development


agreement that allowed for a number of research sharing programs among the three libraries," said Jean Collins, NAU library dean.

"We have access to each other's information. ASU and NAU are on the Carl System and the platform (the main system) is at ASU. (The) UA is on SABIO. We can all access through the systems along the lines of Internet," Collins said.

"In some commercial ventures, there are computerized databases. Students or faculty decide what they need, and we locate it through Carl Uncover which we pay for on a pro-rated basis. This way we don't get crosswire with copyright," Collins said. Carl Uncover is the computer system that allows people to view the journal they want on a computer screen, and the copyright fee is included in the service.

Finances forced the elimination of some UA subscriptions.

"The titles that we cut were going up 20 percent per year. The publishing companies are taking profits and are investing it in ways that gives them control over every format it is presented in," Stoffle said.

The library sought advice on what publications to keep and which ones to discard.

"We made a list of high inflators and sent those to faculty in departments. If those journals are heavily used or are not available in other ways, then that is taken into consideration," Stoffle said.

"We performed use studies and used that data and cut based upon that consultation," Stoffle said.

Those negotiations took one year.

The library canceled 1,724 titles and 16 percent of the titles canceled were from four publishers, Stoffle said. "However, 41 percent of the $531,000 we cut came from those four," she added.

The library budget runs $2.2 million to $2.3 million per year, and the roughly half-million dollars worth of journals were eliminated in order to stay within the budget, Stoffle said.

"A small group of publishers have created almost a monopoly," Stoffle said. "They have developed pricing mechanisms that don't necessarily reflect the cost," she added.

"I suspect that the rise of prices in journals is disproportionate to the cost of producing journals," said Holly Smith, social and behavioral sciences dean, who attended a seminar about the increasing cost of journals.

"We are working with the Association for American Libraries to try and improve research sharing among libraries," Stoffle said.

"We have a donor who has tentatively agreed to give $57,000 if we can get a combination of departments to provide a match," Stoffle said.

The fact that the number of journal subscriptions must be reduced is part of a nationwide phenomenon that is happening because the prices are so high, Smith said.

"If research is emphasized, there will be continued support of the hard copy journal, particularly in science," Collins said.

More and more volumes of journals are being printed with more and more pages and illustrations, Stoffle said.

"Publishers say they own that product and it can't be reproduced," Stoffle said. "We need to look at faculty signing away copyright," when they want to assign their own work for classes.

When you really tear apart their figures, the publishing companies are making a huge profit, Stoffle said.

"The publishers' prices have increased 12 percent to 14 percent, and inflation is at 3 percent. We are wondering why their prices are three and four times higher than the amount of inflation," Stoffle said.

"We publish over 1,100 journals. Some are under $100 and some are over $10,000," said John Tagler, a spokesman for Elsevier publishing company. Elsevier produces predominantly scientific journals.

There are many variables when it comes to pricing journals, Tagler said. A publishing house can print anywhere from 400-20,000 pages a year for any one subscription, he said.

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