deborah deborah.dwj at suberic.net
Mon Jan 24 11:38:59 EST 2005

On Mon, 24 Jan 2005, Margaret Ball wrote:
|>Elsevier *hiss*  *growl*
|>> -deborah, who has been trained in library school to vilify
|>> Elsevier as the figurehead of all that is evil in the Crisis in Scholarly
|>> Communication (TM).
|>I say, that was polite! I tend to say "Elsevier (spitspit)".
|>Jennifer, who has worked in the periodicals department of an academic library.
|Okay, I give up; why do librarians hate Elsevier? I was trained in
|graduate school to think, "If Elsevier published it, it's probably a
|legitimate academic book with some real content."

The problem is electronic publishing.  With the traditional journal, you
subscribe to it, and you get some journal copies.  You stop your
subscription because you're having a bad budget year, and you lose the
journal copies that you would have gotten in the year 2002.  Then you
start your subscription again in 2003, and at the end of the year you
have all the journal copies from 2001 and 2003.  Then you can stop your
subscription again, and you still have the journal copies from 2001 and
2003 until you decide to get rid of them.  In electronic publishing,
you're not buying copies, you're licensing the right to use.  So if you
let your subscription lapse, you have no information at all.  All of
those copies that you bought in 2001 -- they go away.  You don't get
them anymore if you stop giving the publisher money.

This is just a preface.  Everyone works this way.

Now, Elsevier.  Elsevier charges as much or more for electronic access
as they do for print access.
Most universities can't afford not to get academic access anymore.
Their users insist on it, and with good reason.  You get information
much faster, and can search much more efficiently.

And Elsevier?  Elsevier says: "If you'd like this one very important
journal, you have to subscribe to the following 450 unimportant
journals.  If you'd like JAMA, we'll make sure it costs you hundreds of
thousands of dollars a year contractually.  Also, here, sign this 15
year contract and offer us your first born."  Extremely wealthy
universities (including schools such as Harvard and MIT) have had to cut
the subscriptions of important journals -- and therefore have lost
access to all of the information contained in those journals during the
years in which they were subscribed -- because their Elsevier contracts
alone were eating up half of their collection budgets.

It's a contract of which Mr. Chesney would be proud in its devious evil.

Me: Should we install Microsoft products or Applixware?
Magic 8 Ball: Outlook not good.

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