Walking away from the American Chemical Society

There’s no gentle introduction to this, so I’ll get right to my point:

Librarians, this is a call to action.

tl;dr: SUNY Potsdam will not be subscribing to an American Chemical Society online journal package for 2013. We will instead be using a combination of the Royal Society of Chemistry content, ACS single title subscriptions, the ACS backfile, and ScienceDirect from Elsevier** to meet our chemical information needs. We’re doing this because the ACS pricing model is unsustainable for our institution and we were unable to find common ground with the sales team from the ACS. Instead, we explored other options and exercised them. You could do the same if you find yourself in a position similar to ours as ACS standardizes their pricing, and maybe together we can make enough choices to make our voices heard in meaningful ways.

So here’s how we got here.

The problem:
In May 2012, after much internal discussion and debate, three SUNY library directors from the comprehensive colleges (myself included) and the university centers, along with two SUNY Office of LIbrary and Information Services staff met with three representatives from the ACS at SUNY Plaza in Albany, NY, and discussed their pricing model. The ACS folks were very clear: they are dedicated to moving all customers to a consistent pricing model, the pricing steps in that model are based on a tiered system, and there is a base price underneath all of that. In principle, I absolutely support this kind of move: too many libraryland vendors obscure their pricing models, negotiate great deals with one institution while charging double to someone else, or “have to ask the manager” to approve any offer. In our discussions, the librarian stakeholders noted our support for this approach, but argued that while their tiers are reasonable and based on arguably sound criteria, the base price underlying those steps is unsustainable and inappropriate. (In the case of SUNY Potsdam, the ACS package would have consumed more than 10% of my total acquisitions budget, just for journals for this one department.) We also learned that their base price and pricing model, when applied to much larger institutions, did not produce the same unsustainable pricing – I cannot provide numbers, as they are marked SUNY Confidential, but I can easily say that what our ARL peers pay for ACS in support of their doctoral programs is, in my estimation, in no way fair or reflective of the usage, FTE, or budgets of those institutions as compared to the pricing offered my institution for my usage, FTE, and budgets. It seems to me that the tiered increases may be fair and be reflective, but the problem lies with the base price underlying their pricing model. That base price is unsustainable for small institutions. And, unfortunately, the ACS sales team is not currently interested in negotiating on that fact. In response to any suggestions of ways that SUNY or campuses might collaborate or negotiate to reach a place where we could sustain our subscriptions – one which might well be applied to other campuses, other consortia by ACS – we were repeatedly told “but that’s not our pricing model.” The ACS is clearly committed to creating consistent pricing across their tiers, which I respect. However, I firmly believe that their approach to the base price for their resources is unacceptable and unsustainable for institutions like mine.

What we did:
Given that there was no apparent ACS-based solution to our budget crunch in the face of what we feel is unsustainable pricing, we went to our Chemistry faculty and discussed all of this with them. This was not our first meeting; we’ve been discussing this since fall 2011 when we clearly understood that ACS pricing would continue to increase, and was pushing at the ceiling of what we could sustain.  Along with two librarians – the Collection Development Coordinator, and our subject liaison to Chemistry – I laid all the facts out. We described our subscription history in support of their scholarship, teaching, and learning needs, pulled out the costs for ACS content when we first subscribed in the early 2000s and referred back to the discussions we had then (when I was CD Coordinator, not Director), laid out the current cost of ACS publications and the price increases over the past five years, and estimated what our 3-year prices would be. Based on our discussion, I think that some of our faculty were surprised, some seemed resigned, some were horrified, and they were all frustrated by what seemed to be a plate full of bad options. However, after two meetings and much discussion of how to reconfigure our ACS subscriptions to meet our budgetary constraints, I believe that we all agreed that this goes beyond having a tight campus or library budget: this is simply not appropriate pricing for an institution like ours. The result of our first meeting was that the chemistry faculty agreed to take their concerns to the ACS based on their individual professional involvements with the organization, talking with sales and the Chemical Information Division about their concerns, and we agreed that we’d look into other library solutions to their chemical information needs.

The options we found:
So Marianne Hebert, our Collection Development Coordinator, did some research, and came up with three options for Chemistry content.
A) The ACS Core+ Package at the new standardized price, ACS Legacy Archive, 2-3 selected titles outside the Core+, and ILL fill-in as needed beyond the 250 tokens offered. Based on our use stats, this would maintain a comfortable level of access to ACS content, but was going to save us virtually no money over our ACS full package, as we would have to pay the ACS full list prices for the selected titles, plus the $41 per article copyright clearance fee for ILLs beyond the initial free articles.
B) A Wiley 2012 STM package, which offered many chemistry titles. This was about 40% of what we would have spent on ACS content, based on our Wiley print subscriptions and other existing Wiley contracts.
C) A Royal Society of Chemistry Gold Package, and the RSC archive. This was about 54% of what we were projected to spend on ACS content.

So we gathered up the price quotes, the title lists, and our usage data, and presented the three options to the Chemistry faculty who were available on campus in July. These faculty are strong participants in their professional organization: Many if not all of them are ACS members, doing active research and publication both alone and with undergraduate research partners, some of them heavily involved in ACS committees and conferences. And they agreed on behalf of their department that despite the undisputed excellence of content and relevance to their work found in American Chemical Society content, we cannot afford the ACS content at the current pricing model.

What we chose:
When faculty compared the titles available from Wiley and the RSC, they preferred the RSC for reasons of quality, reputation, and relevance to our curriculum. On the library side, we agreed to subscribe to the RSC Gold Package, and to provide our standard ILL service for any needed additional titles (though we were careful to note the $41 clearance fee for ACS publications, and described how that works, so that everyone was clear on the many ways that the ACS has price-protected access to their content). We also added on the ACS Legacy Archive, as it is reasonably priced for an STM indexing and abstracting product. There was then a discussion of the appropriateness and feasibility of faculty encouraging students doing undergraduate research to purchase ACS student memberships (students’ dues are $25 and include 25 free downloads from any ACS publication), which could be nicely dovetailed with our Legacy Archive access and would be professionally relevant to our students as they graduate and move into jobs as chemists. Our Information Literacy librarians have also begun working with Chemistry faculty to integrate “how to do chemical research without university resources to support you” into some of our information literacy sessions for the department.  Teaching this kind of broader information skillset strikes me as just the kind of IL skills we want our students to have as they move into jobs outside of higher education, and I’m grateful this is one side effect of the discussion.

Librarians and faculty raised the valid concern that we might not be able to meet ACS approval of undergraduate programs without our ACS package. The ACS is in the unique position of both approving programs and selling the content necessary for approval, which I will leave to someone else to debate the ethics of. Throughout our discussions we agreed that any library solution we proposed would have the ability to meet the approval requirements in concert with our subscription to ScienceDirect. It can be done.

The dramatic conclusion:
And so that’s where we are. On January 1, 2013 our ACS content will dramatically decline, and our RSC package is already active to pick up the slack. The libraries have agreed to do a robust analysis of how well or poorly this works out in this year, but the chemistry faculty were willing to join the librarians in taking a stand against unsustainable pricing structures. I argued to them that while I will always try to do what’s best for our students and faculty, we also have an ethical responsibility as active members of the scholarly information ecosystem to make smart choices. I asserted that someone has to be first – someone has to stand up and say that this is unacceptable, that we must find or create better options, and that we have the power to make choices based on those options. I know that other libraries — some within SUNY, some outside — have already chosen to unsubscribe from ACS content, all for their own reasons, be they practical, ethical, financial… But no one is talking about it. Or at least, not loudly enough to suit me. So I’ll be the first one to stand up and say it loud.

Librarians are often disinclined to be first to try something – we’d often rather be second, after someone else has found the hidden pitfalls. So here I am, saying that we were willing to be the first to be loud, and to provide you with a public example of what is possible. Our chemistry faculty were willing to follow that lead, and I’m grateful to them for it. I’ll report back on what we learn.

~~~~~~~~

** I am also displeased with Elsevier, as are many others. However, all 64 SUNY campuses buy ScienceDirect as a part of our Core Services through SUNYConnect, and given the broader interests of all of SUNY, I was not allowed to opt out of the Elsevier contract as a part of those Core Services.

79 thoughts on “Walking away from the American Chemical Society

  1. Erin McJ

    Came here from Andromeda Yelton’s blog, and this caught my eye:

    “The ACS is in the unique position of both approving programs and selling the content necessary for approval…”

    Is it really true that access to the scientific literature plays a role in accreditation of undergraduate programs? How do tiny colleges survive if that’s the case?

    Reply
  2. Gretel

    Brilliant breakdown of these challenges. We’re even smaller than you are, and we are also over a barrel with ACS content. Our difference is that we’ve never been able to afford to subscribe to the ACS journal package – it would eat up most of my serials budget, which also supports a graduate nursing program. Our solution, like yours, has been to seek out RSC subscriptions and Science Direct along with one or two additional publications.

    I’d be interested to hear how your copyright costs change. That’s always a challenging item for us to manage each fiscal year; we have a hard time budgeting for it, as it changes radically each year.

    Thanks for speaking up.

    Reply
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  4. Jenica

    Erin, yes. Check out the ACS guidelines for approval of undergraduate programs – they lay out what you must have access to in order to provide an ACS-approved undergraduate chemistry degree. And we survive by being very, very creative and relying on consortial pricing for major resources.

    Reply
  5. Bohyun

    Jenica, Thanks for the great post! Just a quick question: Does the ACS approval of undergrad chem program is part of the official accreditation process that a college must go through to keep the ‘college’ title or is it a separate thing? I thought it was not the same as accreditation but maybe I am wrong… It was hard to tell from the ACS website:

    http://portal.acs.org/portal/acs/corg/content?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=PP_SUPERARTICLE&node_id=194&use_sec=false&sec_url_var=region1&__uuid=80c725d4-d445-4f9e-9aaf-a46b22787201

    Reply
  6. Jenica

    Thats the right link if you’re I terested in ACS approval, yep. It’s not related to our institutional Middle States accreditation, no. It’s simply an indicator of our dedication to excellence to be able to have an ACS approved chemistry program. And since I’m striving for even-handed, I will let someone else debate the ethics of having the major publisher in a field approve programs based in part on the availability of publisher-produced content.

    Reply
  7. Darci Jones

    Couldn’t it be considered fraud to keep increasing prices while being the premier accreditation body for the undergraduate Chemistry programs? Isn’t this a legal conflict of interest?

    Reply
  8. Kiyomi

    Jenica, have you checked out RSC’s ChemSpider? I really like it and I love that it’s free for anyone to search.

    In regards to ACS approval, basically if you don’t have an ACS accredited degree it can be difficult to go on to graduate school since most (all?) require and ACS accredited undergraduate degree if you went to school in the USA. I worked with one of my departments on their accreditation and we had to say what titles from a list of ACS titles we subscribed to. It wasn’t clear how many or which we had to have, but library resources are an important part of the accreditation process. Additionally, it’s important for faculty to have access since most of them are required to publish in ACS journals as part of their promotion and tenure package, not necessarily because they are ACS publications but because they tend to have some of the highest impact factors in the discipline.

    To be fair I should point out that ACS spends a lot of money on outreach programs for schools and REU’s (Research Experience for Undergraduates). On the other hand an older chemist once stood up in the middle of a meeting and called ACS the most evil society in the world.

    Reply
  9. Pingback: Yay SUNY Potsdam, but pondering the fungibility of chemistry journals… | Christina's LIS Rant

  10. Michael Golrick

    When are you going to run for ALA President.

    You are demonstrating vision and leadership. You are modeling important behaviors in soliciting input from the most directly affected people you serve. You are incredibly articulate about the vision and the process, and creative about the solution.

    You heard it here first. You should run.

    Reply
  11. Ian McCullough

    “In regards to ACS approval, basically if you don’t have an ACS accredited degree it can be difficult to go on to graduate school since most (all?) require and ACS accredited undergraduate degree if you went to school in the USA.”
    I checked a couple graduate chemistry programs and found no mention of the ACS degree. Is this an informally understood requirement, lore passed down through the ages, something I missed, or something else?

    Reply
  12. J5N1

    Em…I don’t think that’s the case about ACS accredited undergrad degrees are necessary for graduate school. I went to a small (~2k undergrads) liberal arts school with a non ACS accredited degree program and was accepted to 9/9 chemistry graduate programs to which I applied (which included a program consistently ranked in the top 10 in the US for chemistry, and the rest largely in the top 50).

    I agree the original content provider/accreditation body, is a conflict of interest…but no need to muddy the waters by overselling it.

    Reply
  13. Flora Grabowska

    I applaud this move and deplore the ACS vendor/accreditor conflict.
    The downside I see as a librarian is that it will prove a barrier to chemistry information. Professors and researchers are likely to have buddies at other institutions whom they may call on to send them an occasional ACS PDF but undergrads may be less likely to have such a network. ILL is just the tip of the iceberg reflecting information needs. When Vassar where I used to work added ScienceDirect we saw huge uptake in previously inaccessible journals never requested on ILL.

    Richard Roberts, 1993 Nobel prizewinner, withdrew his ACS membership after failing to get them to amend their pricing policies. Not that ACS paid any heed.

    If many librarians at least discuss this move on various listserves, ACS may prove more amenable. After much outcry over a few years ACS finally stopped the outrageous ‘rolling file’ pricing model.

    Reply
  14. Pingback: This One’s for SUNY Potsdam | Librarian Squared

  15. Kiyomi

    Hi Ian, I based that comment on my experiences as a chemistry undergraduate/grad student, well over a decade ago. At the time ACS accreditation was highly emphasized to me as a must both by my professors and the grad schools which I happened to apply to at the time. There is also a distinction which I did not make here between an ACS accredited program and a higher level accreditation of chemistry degree within an accredited program, I should have clarified that I was referring to an ACS accredited Chemistry department in my earlier comment, not the more specialized degree (required more course if I remember correctly).

    Reply
  16. Ian McCullough

    Kimiyo – my query came from getting a chemistry degree over a decade ago and my chemistry department considering the ACS accredited degree an open joke and emphatically not a big deal.

    Reply
  17. Gretchen Weiner

    Thanks for your excellent summary! We cancelled our ACS package in 2010 for exactly the same reasons. We are a small school with a very small chemistry program and when we did the math, were paying $100+ per download. We have maintained a couple of ACS individual subscriptions and have Science Direct. I plan to look into RCS as well. We believe we still meet ACS accreditation requirements(barely)for whatever they are worth. Interestingly, we receive very few requests for articles through interlibrary loan.

    Reply
  18. AprilDavies

    The American Psychological Association (APA) does the same publisher/accreditor thing as ACS but in a more reasonable manner.

    Reply
  19. ChemDeptChair

    I chair an ACS-approved chemistry department at a private regional university. Common thought around here is that our grad-school- and professional-school-bound students do not require an ACS-approved degree. (Actually, most have done very well with one of our non-ACS approved tracks.) However, we have also heard that some employers will not consider an applicant for a BS-level chemist position who does not have an ACS-approved degree. In addition, ACS approval is often meaningful in other parts of the country where our university’s reputation is unknown. We value the ACS approval of our department as a recognition of the quality that we believe we provide for all of our students, not just those who graduate with an ACS-approved degree. That being said, I recognize the difficulty libraries like ours face in trying to support an ACS-approved program with a limited budget.

    Reply
  20. Stephanie Walker

    I’ve done this kind of thing twice as well. The one that’s most interesting was a situation with CAS regarding SciFinder Scholar. I was at a tiny institution, & to buy this resource for our 6-person Chemistry department, when only 1 was really interested, would have cost me over 10% of my budget. After about a year of negotiation, we came to an agreement whereby CAS allowed 3 tiny institutions to share a single “seat”, so the price ended up being 1/3 of what it would otherwise have cost. I bought a year’s subscription, and the prof who was most interested actually built 5 years of further funding into his grant application, and when it was approved, he paid for it! I was thrilled – working together, we found a way to get at least 6 years of access to a critical resource for a very active and productive researcher.

    Reply
  21. Small school chemist

    I am an associate professor in a comprehensive university with a small chemistry department. We have thought about trying for ACS certification, but have backed away for many reasons. Our students go through a rigorous program and get onto whatever graduate program they want. No one seem to care that the degree is not ACS certified. Our program has an excellent reputation without it.

    Reply
  22. Linda Hulbert

    I applaud your decision. We had lengthy discussions with ACS last year when two things happened we lost our state subsidy AND the price went up to even up the costs across subscribers. Even when putting them in the same sentence with Elsevier (we are part of that big deal but our content and usage – .20 a download are justifiable), did no good. We are looking at usage to determine what our bill would be if we walked away from the ‘deal.’ We have a tiny chemistry department(we have 14 faculty members).

    I did want to let you know that I had felt as you did that our accreditation could be in jeopardy. Our science librarian often said that. So I looked up the language. I felt like states attorney generals would be interested in those extortion like practices that held us to purchase something in order to insure accreditation. The following is the most recent statement I could find last year:

    4.4 Chemical Information Resources. The vast peer-reviewed chemical literature must be readily accessible to both faculty and students. Historically such access came through a good library providing monographs, periodicals, and facilities for database searches. Electronic access has changed the function of libraries as physical repositories. An approved program must provide students with the following minimum chemical information resources:
    • An approved program must provide access to no fewer than 14 current journals chosen from the CPT recommended journal list (available from the CPTWeb site) in either print or electronic form. At least three must come from the general content list, and at least one must come from each area of analytical chemistry, biochemistry, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, physical chemistry, and chemistry education. In addition, the library should provide access to journal articles that are not readily available by a mechanism such as interlibrary loan or document delivery services. If primary student access is electronic, cost or impractical times for access should not limit it unduly.
    • Students must have print or electronic access to Chemical Abstracts, including the ability to search and access full abstracts. serve as an introduction to each field, rather than a general chemistry textbook. Exam questions should cover concepts in greater detail than is typical in an introductory or general chemistry course. At the conclusion of a foundation course, a student should have mastered the vocabulary, concepts, and skills required to pursue in-depth study in that area. Some areas, particularly organic and physical chemistry, have traditionally been taught as year-long courses. This practice may continue, using the first semester course in the sequence as a foundation course and the second-semester course as an in-depth course. Integrated foundation course work may provide exposure to multiple foundation areas of chemistry or a group of topics organized by overarching themes (for example, synthesis, characterization, and reactivity) rather than by the traditional organization of chemistry subdisciplines.

    The list includes many titles from Elsevier, RSC and others including ACS. You can meet their requirements easily with alternative content to the ACS – except for the index, which we are not talking about canceling.

    We will let you know what our future looks like with them.

    Reply
  23. Chemjobber

    However, we have also heard that some employers will not consider an applicant for a BS-level chemist position who does not have an ACS-approved degree.

    @ChemDeptChair: FWIW, I read a lot of job ads for chemists. I cannot remember ever seeing reference to an ACS-approved degree in education requirements.

    Reply
  24. John Wayne

    Hi everybody; I’m followed links from ‘In The Pipeline’ to this interesting story, and I’d like to share my experience with ACS certification of undergraduate degrees.

    When I was an undergraduate I changed my major a bit late. As such, I was not going to meet the requirements for an ACS certified degree. I asked my advisor if this was important, and he replied, “If you were leaving school with a BS degree it might matter. Since you are going to graduate school is definitely doesn’t matter.” This was almost 20 years ago, and influence of the ACS is less important today (outside the publishing pseudo-monopoly).

    Reply
  25. Julie Henderleiter

    I am saddened that the ACS continues to ignore the realities of funding in higher education. My department has several “tracks” some are ACS-certified, others are not. I don’t know that certification has ever made a different for our students; they go to grad school and find jobs no matter the track they take.

    I have an ACS-certified BS degree, it made no difference when I was hired into my first job after completing my BS, nor did it matter when I went to grad. school.

    I’ve been a (relatively active) ACS member for 23 years. I’ve debated the importance of continuing, particularly over the past 5 years. This puts me one step closer to resigning.

    Reply
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  27. ACS sufferer

    The Brandon & Brian Show

    Very recently I had a conversation with Brandon Nordin, Vice President, Marketing, Sales & Web Strategy and Brian Crawford, president ACS publications on the subject of ACS pricing and price models. During our chat I reiterated some points that have been mentioned to the ACS sales force over the past year. I’m sure many of you are familiar with these points.

    1) The cost of access to ACS content has increased about 100% in the past 10 years.
    2) The ACS pricing formula, allegedly based on use, FTE and Carnegie Classification is flawed as Carnegie does not necessarily indicate the level of chemistry instruction on a given campus.
    3) Their price increases are egregious given a decade of economic stagnation.
    4) Smaller institutions, which are not primarily research centered and have significantly smaller budgets than research institutions, are bearing the brunt of ASC price increases.
    5) My small institution is paying 10x as much per download as a much larger school with a library budget that is approximately 30 times larger.

    The ACS reply:

    1) ACS provides significantly more content today than it did 10 years ago because the field of chemistry has expanded significantly during that time.
    2) The pricing formula was researched with significant input from the library community.
    3) According to the “Allen Report” ACS price increases are below average for STEM literature. http://allenpress.com/system/files/pdfs/library/2012_AP_JPS.pdf (Not True)

    I don’t think these guys get out much.

    Reply
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  29. anonymous librarian

    The situation at the library where I work must be very different than the situation at SUNY Potsdam.

    We do subscribe to a package of ACS journals. We find the price that we pay for this collection to be very reasonable for the amount of use it receives. We are a very small undergraduate institution with a strong research focus in the sciences. Costs from ACS journals represent 3% of our serials budget. Our cost per use at the package level is consistently $4 per article. I provide this level of detail to show that ACS pricing is not necessarily bad for all small institutions.

    The accreditation standards require that that the literature be “readily accessible.” My understanding has been that institutions are free to interpret that to include delivery through a reliable and timely interlibrary loan service. We usually have same day turnaround for articles requested through interlibrary loan.

    It is the responsibility of collection development and serials librarians to thoroughly analyze the cost and use of their subscriptions on an annual basis to be sure their institution is providing access to the most needed resources at the right value. That sometimes means cancelling resources that do not show adequate cost per use. That is not “taking a stand,” that is doing your job.

    We have cancelled half of our RSC subscriptions over the past few years because of high cost and low use. I would be very surprised if SUNY Potsdam patrons make use of RSC journal at nearly the same level of ACS journals. Articles are not interchangeable in that way.

    I find it somewhat difficult to believe that there were not a few ACS titles that were not a good value on a cost per use basis. Making a decision to cancel all ACS journals and replace them with other journals of unknown value does not seem like a wise collection management decision.

    Reply
  30. Jenica Post author

    Anonymous,

    While I respect your approach re: cost per use and institutional priorities for collection management, as blog owner I also can see your IP address. That means I can identify your home institution. Since you chose to be anonymous, I won’t out you, but I will note that you are working at a private college with very different circumstances than my state-funded institution. Presuming that the data I found in a 2010 Library Journal article is correct, your acquisitions budget is upwards of 600% of my budget — my materials budget is well under half a million dollars total. So our assessments of reasonable cost per use are perhaps scaled differently.

    And, to address your specific comment at the end, there absolutely are a few titles that would be a good value individually, but only at the discounted package price — once we moved to the ACS list price, they ceased to be a good value, because buying one or two of them would undo all of the savings from cancelling the package, and would prevent us from purchasing the RSC package necessary to backfill the content areas for ACS approval. We’d have just one or two ACS titles and nothing else, or, alternately, no savings AND less content.

    This is a hugely complex issue, and each campus will need to address it individually based on local truths and values. I’m happy to hear that someone out there is getting a good value from the ACS. It would be terribly depressing to think otherwise.

    Reply
  31. pch

    I also find it troubling that one “solution” ACS appears to be pushing is for undergrads and faculty to become ACS members.

    So a non-profit scholarly association, which touts itself as “committed to developing the next generation of dynamic chemistry leaders,” and is also the accrediting body for undergraduate chemistry programs, is creating a pricing model that pushes libraries out, while promoting solutions that build their organizational membership.

    I applaud you for working with your chemistry faculty to find alternate solutions.

    Reply
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  35. Scott

    To address a comment made by “anonymous librarian”: You seem to suggest that Ms. Rogers is simply “doing her job”. Yes, in the literal sense, she is. But in publicizing her reasoning and the situation that drove it, she is, in fact, taking a stand.

    So long as groups like ACS, Elsevier, and others who attempt to dictate our purchasing decisions to us through pricing and market manipulation are allowed to do so in relative secrecy, those actions will not be challenged except on an individual basis. I am happy that your institution has the money to afford to be able to make the choices of what you want to provide. But most of us do not have that luxury.

    And so if going public is a way to draw attention to the issue that might actually affect this situation for the rest of us, then more power to Jenica Rogers for what she has done. We have nothing to lose but our complacency.

    Reply
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  37. anonymous librarian 2

    What I found interesting was a few years ago I was in a meeting with librarians and vendor reps. A vendor rep stood up and told us flat out “You shouldn’t be discussing prices. It’s a violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and you are all lucky us publishers don’t sue you for collusion in price fixing.” There’s an interesting thought — a lawsuit where publishers, under oath, have to answer questions about their pricing policies, their “cooperation” with other publishers, and their actual costs in production of materials.

    Reply
  38. Ben

    Librarian at a private science & technology based research institution. We can (fortunately) still afford this package but we feel the pinch of journal price increases all the time. Got here from the Chronicle article.

    I find the response from ACS rather disturbing. “We find little constructive dialogue can be had on blogs and other listservs where logic, balance, and common courtesy are not practiced and observed,” Glenn S. Ruskin, the group’s director of public affairs, said in an e-mail message.

    If ACS is so uncomfortable with blogs, then one wonders about their commitment to scholarly communication entirely, which is increasingly “blogified” and socially networked.

    Also–this is their public affairs person, and he can’t come up anything more politic to say? Really?

    Reply
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  41. eakidwell

    “We find little constructive dialogue can be had on blogs and other listservs where logic, balance, and common courtesy are not practiced and observed,” … there is a curious comment for you, and a cop-out if I ever heard one. Yes, some blogs and other electronic methods of communication can become uncivil, etc., but you can’t discount them all. Also, there comes a point when libraries (including my own)cannot ignore the reality that there simply is not enough money to sustain the status quo (let alone be able to add new resources). Some publishers seem to understand this and are willing to work with libraries, while others appear to be in denial of reality.

    Reply
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