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.

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