This week Ivy Anderson, Director of Collections for the California Digital Library, sent the following open letter to most of CDL's key content providers.
OPEN LETTER TO LICENSED CONTENT PROVIDERS
The University of California Libraries ask all information providers with whom we negotiate content licenses to respond to the major fiscal challenges affecting higher education in California in a spirit of collaboration and mutual problem-solving. We expect to work with each of our vendors at renewal to develop creative solutions that can preserve the greatest amount of content to meet the information needs of the University of California’s students, faculty, and researchers.
The University of California Libraries, including the California Digital Library (CDL), share the economic concerns expressed in the Statement to Scholarly Publishers on the Global Economic Crisis issued by the Association of Research Libraries <http://www.arl.org/bm~doc/economic-statement-2009.pdf> and the Statement on the Global Economic Crisis issued by the International Coalition of Library Consortia <http://www.library.yale.edu/consortia/icolc-econcrisis-0109.htm>. The economic crisis affecting libraries is particularly acute in California, which as of this writing (May 2009) is forecasting a $21 billion state budget shortfall for 2010 despite previous efforts to close a $42 billion budget gap in 2009.
As a state-supported institution, the University of California has experienced significant budget reductions in fiscal year 2009, with more reductions to come. The $531 million shortfall now anticipated in state funding for the 2009-10 fiscal year amounts to nearly 17 percent of the $3.2 billion the state provides UC annually. Numerous cost containment measures are in place across the university, including salary and other compensation freezes for senior managers, hiring curtailments for other staff, travel restrictions, and other mandated reductions. More information about the UC budget situation is available on the University’s Web site at http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/budget
UC Libraries are being hit hard by the budget reduction mandates in effect at each of the UC campuses. Targeted reductions to library materials budgets for fiscal year 2010 vary across the campuses, with some as high as 20%. Many campuses have been alerted that additional cuts will be levied in fiscal year 2011. Coupled with the typical inflationary increases for scholarly publications, the erosion of library buying power will have a profound and lasting impact on all of the UC libraries. Monographic purchasing has already been seriously curtailed, and every electronic content license is being placed under careful scrutiny.
While we will not be able to spare every product, we will pursue every possible creative option to maintain access to resources important to the UC mission. These options may include developing processes for individual campuses to disengage from systemwide agreements without penalty to other campuses and without penalties being levied upon re-entry; deeper overall discounts when new or add-on products are acquired; and in some if not many cases, outright cost reductions. We welcome all innovative proposals for managing through these difficult times.
From Peter Suber's SPARC Open Access Forum:
On Wednesday, May 14th, by unanimous vote, the faculty of the Department of Romance Languages at the University of Oregon adopted an Open Access mandate [...]. This mandate is the first (according to ROAR) such mandate in the world by any Department in the Humanities and the 3rd in Oregon (after OSU Library faculty and UO Library faculty). It is distinguished by the stipulation that URLs of self-archived postprints are to be included in all materials submitted to the Department for purposes of review and promotion.
Suber makes these two comments:
* This is one of the strongest policies anywhere. It starts with a Harvard-style mandate-plus-waiver policy and then adds a libre OA license (CC-BY-NC-ND). It seems to say that promotion review of journal articles will be limited to those on deposit in the repository (a desirable feature pioneered by Napier Edinburgh and Liege). Moreover, it does not allow embargoes beyond the date of publication unless the author seeks a waiver. All this in another unanimous vote. Kudos to the whole department.
* As the announcement notes, this is the first OA mandate anywhere by a humanities department. I believe it makes the U of Oregon the first university anywhere with two departmental mandates. The UO library faculty adopted an OA mandate one week ago today --also by a unanimous vote. (Harvard has three schools with mandates but they are not departments.) This is the start of what Arthur Sale called a patchwork mandate and suggests that we'll soon see mandates from other Oregon departments.
Library Journal, in its annual Periodical Price Survey, says that the current state of the dollar means that journal prices will likely average 7-9% more in cost next year. Given the state budget deficit and the effect that will undoubtedly have on funding for higher education, LJ's forecast raises concern about the Libraries' ability to hold off journal cancellations.
Contrary to perceptions that access issues only affect scientists, LJ projects that journals in the social sciences will actually have a higher price increase than science journals (8.3% for the former, 7.5% for the latter).
Amidst the national and international financial crises, the journals marketplace is navigating new waters. Many libraries, including some of our largest research institutions, say massive cancellations are already in the works. It seems certain that most libraries will have less money to spend than they had in 2009. Publishers have been asked to roll back prices so libraries can keep valued content. Based on past records, some will remain intractable, absorb cancellations without making price concessions or renegotiating licenses, and wait for a better day. Others will deal in the hopes of keeping content in front of users until library budgets recover and prices return to prerecession levels. In recent years, price increases for journals have averaged 7–9%. Despite pleas for pricing mercies, we don’t have any information at this point that suggests those averages won’t hold for 2010. The conservative budget manager will plan on increases in that range in the coming year.
From "A National Response to an International Outbreak" by Nancy Nielsen, M.D., President, American Medical Association:
The AMA’s strategies on disaster medicine and public health preparedness education are implemented through its National Disaster Life Support (NDLS) Program and peer-reviewed publication, Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness. Through the Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness journal, the AMA will release all pandemic influenza related articles for open access, to provide resources for medical and public health responders. Relevant articles in the journal pipeline also will be published ahead of print to ensure timely dissemination.
On April 28, American Public Media's Marketplace program did a story on "Publicly funded research for a price."
The opening anecdote puts a human face on the issue of public access to publicly funded research:
People who grew up with the Internet expect information to be free. That's what 21-year-old Josh Sommer thought.
In 2006 he was a typical college freshman. Studying environmental engineering, hanging out, making new friends. Suddenly, he started to get severe headaches. He had a series of routine tests.
Josh Sommer: End up having an MRI and being told that I have a mass right in the very center of my head, entwined with critical arteries, in one of the most difficult locations to operate on.
The cancer Josh has is called Chordoma. It's a rare disease with a low survival rate. Even doctors don't know much about it. So Josh threw himself into Chordoma research. He Googled the disease to find out all he could about it, but kept hitting roadblocks.
Sommer: I'd find an abstract, and I'd click on it. And oh, you have to pay $60 to read this article. Oh, you have to pay $40 to read this article. I mean, I have this disease, I want to know about it.
Journal subscriptions -- like the Journal of the American Medical Association -- can cost thousands of dollars each year. With universities and libraries trimming budgets, they can't afford all of them either.
And Duke University law professor James Boyle gives a colorful take on the issue as well:
The Web works great for porn or for shoes, or for flirting on social networks. But it doesn't work really well for science. We haven't done for science what we did on the rest of the Web, which is basically to have this open Web with everything linked together.
Many reader comments on the piece are intriguing as well.
Read or listen to the story here: