Magazine article Information Today

Budget Woes Hit Libraries and Newspapers

Magazine article Information Today

Budget Woes Hit Libraries and Newspapers

Article excerpt

Libraries have long used the tactic of banding together to obtain better pricing from vendors. But the ongoing financial crisis has hit libraries of all kinds particularly hard, causing massive budget shortfalls and triggering significant cuts in acquisitions and services. The library world is abuzz with news of hardships, cutbacks, and even closures.

The University of California (UC) libraries, which say some campuses could face budget cuts of 20% for 2010 with additional cuts expected for 2011, recently wrote an Open Letter to Licensed Content Providers (www .cdlib.org/news/pdf/UC_Libraries_Open_Letter_to_Vendors .pdf) that pleads for understanding from vendors on pricing. The letter requests that vendors "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 UC libraries letter cited earlier statements from the Association of Research Libraries (www.arl.org/bm~doc/economic-statement-2009 .pdf) and the International Coalition of Library Consortia (www.library.yale.edu/consortia/icolceconcrisis-0109.htm), which called for price stabilization and even reductions, and a range of options for contract terms.

So have publishers and library vendors responded with any "creative solutions"? Well, there's been no real creativity that I've noticed, but a number of vendors agreed to waive their planned annual increases. Some vendors were offering attractive discounts to attendees at the annual library conferences this summer.

Here's a list of some specific measures that I've seen announced by vendors. Let's hope others step up to the plea for understanding and concessions.

* Dialog announced a price freeze for the majority of its products for 2009.

* No price increases are expected in 2009-2010 for OCLC cataloging and metadata services, resource sharing and access, and digital and preservation services.

* SPIE announced a 10% rollback in SPIE Digital Library subscription fees for 2010.

* Online subscription prices for the nine research journals and two review journals published by the American Society for Microbiology will not increase in the 2010 subscription year.

* The American Mathematical Society announced a price freeze for 2010 on its subscription-based products.

* OECD Publishing announced a price freeze for 2010 for the full range of SourceOECD products, as well as OECD journals and statistical databases, irrespective of format.

WorldCat Policy Update

Following months of controversy and official statements from library consortia and organizations expressing significant concerns about the proposed WorldCat Policy, OCLC's Review Board on Principles of Shared Data Creation and Stewardship officially recommended that OCLC "Formally withdraw the proposed policy." It further stated: "We affirm that a policy is needed, but not this policy." Here's a link to a PDF of the presentation given by the board's chair, Jennifer Younger: www.oclc .org/us/en/worldcat/catalog/policy/2009 0518-MC-Jennifer_Younger.pdf.

The review board conducted a survey with 1,620 respondents. Here's the list of issues identified:

* Lack of communication about the problem to be solved

* Nonconsultative process

* Lack of clarity around core issues (How can I use my records?)

* Lack of awareness of existing guidelines

* Not as clear a consensus about what OCLC is and does as there was in the past

* Lack of awareness by OCLC and members about divergence of views ("the gap problem")

The new policy should be based on clearly articulated principles, impart confidence to members and partners building strategies predicated on World-Cat, and support innovation, according to the review board report. …

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