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we are not the ones who failed

On Facebook, in comments online, and face-to-face, a few librarians and chemists have expressed sadness, dismay, or concern that we’re canceling our ACS content. The message, uniformly, is “That’s a bad decision. Your users need that content. You need to reconsider.”

So here’s the thing. I don’t disagree with two of those three points. It’s a crappy decision. Our users do need that content. But I cannot reconsider.

I’m notorious in a small SUNY circle for insistently saying the following:

“A good deal that I can’t afford is still a good deal, and I still can’t afford it.”

The difference with the ACS is that I don’t think it’s a good deal. I think it’s a bad deal, and I know I can’t afford it. So I cannot reconsider. And there’s been a suggestion that I should feel guilty for failing to prioritize teaching and learning for our students, instead choosing to make a big public statement about how our libraries and faculty are failing our users. I have one answer to that:

I am not the one who failed to prioritize teaching and learning. I am not the one who should feel guilty. Neither are our faculty.

Librarians and faculty did not price the ACS content out of our ability to pay for it.

Librarians and faculty did not insist, repeatedly, for seven hours of face-to-face ‘negotiations’, that any compromise was outside the established pricing model.

Librarians and faculty did not insist that there should be only private discussion of the matter, and no public debate.

And, to take it bigger picture, librarians and faculty did not reduce State funding for New York’s institutions of higher education.

So I repeat: We are not the ones who should feel guilty. We are not the ones failing to prioritize teaching and learning. And speaking out about that conflict, that injustice, and that frustration does not mean we don’t value those things. It means we do.

10 Responses to we are not the ones who failed

  1. You are absolutely right. And you are most right about not feeling guilty.

    ACS is wrong. On many counts. One way that they are wrong is their pricing scheme. Another is the secrecy which they expect. Your institution is a public institution. Most states have laws about information being public. (I have worked in public institutions for about as many years as you have been alive.) What can be kept private for them is some of the “competitive” information (like how to log on), but not the pricing and terms of *ANY* contract.

    You are to be admired and cheered for making what is a good decision for your institution. You are to be even more admired for the way in which you went about making the decision. Involving the faculty was a key part of your process, and from what I have read, you did that extremely well. You are to be admired for putting the decision — and the background — out for all of us to see.

    Stay the course!

  2. *claps*

  3. Great response. I never feel guilty about doing the best I can with what I’ve got. Give me more money and I can spend it. Give me less money and I can spend that, too. But I can’t spend money I don’t have. Got a problem with that? Take it up with the people above me who set the spending priorities.

  4. [...] again. Librarians and faculty did not price the ACS content out of our ability to pay for [...]

  5. Nicely said Jenica. Over in public library land the world is much the same. We are having to reduce budgets and as a result of this have been cancelling some electronic subscription titles. This has resulted in one vendor writing to us a very strongly worded letter seeking to take our decision into the public domain and effectively force us to continue with their product. Their product which had very low usage stats.

    We have less money and we are asked to make cuts to accommodate this. When you keep slashing library budgets you are going to loose content. This is not a decision forced by librarians but by those who decide what funding we get. And, if you cannot take a flexible approach to pricing based on the realities of a libraries financial situation. You better be prepared to loose that library as a customer.

  6. “We are not the ones who should feel guilty. We are not the ones failing to prioritize teaching and learning. And speaking out about that conflict, that injustice, and that frustration does not mean we don’t value those things. It means we do.”

    Amen. (Or, in less religious terms, “what Jenica said.”)

  7. I love your ability to cut to the core of the matter. Well said. If only people spent more time debating the real issues, and less time trying to attack those who bring these issues to our notice…

  8. [...] to answer for. However, the Loon will leave that aside for now, as Rogers is.) It’s the static Rogers is receiving from fellow librarians that the Loon wants to [...]

  9. [...] we are not the ones who failed by Jenica [...]

  10. [...] (a silencing so successful that the Loon can find no evidence to link to!) to Jenica Rogers’s recent experience with pushback. Many librarians of the Loon’s acquaintance have told her stories of vendors [...]

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