I get press releases. Oh do I get press releases from publicists on some of the wackiest topics out there. I’m not going to go into that because there is one that actually relates to something in which I’m interested. I’ve written about the shrinking print collection before, especially when it relates to primary materials. I have advocated cancelling reporter subscriptions because there is so many alternative sources for it in subscription and free databases. Mind you, it should be a thoughtful cancellation considering how well the online alternatives can be a solid substitute. The same applies to secondary sources where the treatise is available through an electronic subscription via Lexis, Westlaw, or another electronic library package. I believe we at DePaul are not unique in considering the issues.
Well, back to the press release part. The Primary Research Group has issued a commercial study on the shrinking print collections. It’s called Law Library Plans for the Print Materials Collection, ISBN 978-157440-353-4. Here’s a sample set of stats from the publication:
- The cumulative 2-year drop in spending on print resources from 2014-2016 by the law firms in the sample is expected to be 22.6%.
- For small law firm libraries the number of subscriptions to print journals went from 66.67 to 51.67 and then to an anticipated 45 over the three year period, a cumulative 2-year drop of 32%.
- Primary works accounted for a mean of 35.53% of spending on print legal materials with a median of 30% and a range of 5% to 90%. For law school libraries, print primary materials accounted for 54% of the total print materials budget, a much higher percentage than for law firm libraries 28%, or government law libraries, 32.86%.
The last one is interesting. We in the academic business try to prepare students for the tools that they can expect to use in practice. If law firms are buying less print, and I’m assuming a firm in this situation is using an online database, why are academic libraries still buying at a much higher percentage? But, hey, that’s just me wondering that.
Here is more information about the report:
The study is currently available as a PDF and will be available in book format on September 9, 2015 and can be ordered now. The price for either version is $135.00; site licenses are also available. To view the table of contents, an excerpt, questionnaire and list of participants, view our website at http://www.PrimaryResearch.com or visit the product page for this report at http://www.primaryresearch.com/view_product.php?report_id=561.
The question I’m thinking about now is how to utilize the space that will become available. I’ll write my thoughts about that later.
There is an interesting article from the CBC called Academic publishers reap huge profits as libraries go broke. The sub-title is “5 companies publish more than 70 per cent of research papers, study finds.” There is a constant cry from academic libraries in the United States, and I assume Canada, over the cost increases in scientific, medical, and social science journals. Harvard University in fact joined that chorus three years ago in encouraging its scholars to publish in open source publications. Academic libraries in some situations dropped Elsevier subscriptions in protest. Others joined in as well.
The CBC article documents a study of publishers by Vincent Larivière and others from the University of Montreal’s School of Library and Information Science. He found that the top five journal publishers held 53% of the academic journal market and had a 40% profit margin. This sentence explains why that is possible.
“The quality control is free, the raw material is free, and then you charge very, very high amounts – of course you come up with very high profit margins.”
Indeed. There is a link to the full paper within the article. Here’s the abstract:
The consolidation of the scientific publishing industry has been the topic of much debate within and outside the scientific community, especially in relation to major publishers’ high profit margins. However, the share of scientific output published in the journals of these major publishers, as well as its evolution over time and across various disciplines, has not yet been analyzed. This paper provides such analysis, based on 45 million documents indexed in the Web of Science over the period 1973-2013. It shows that in both natural and medical sciences (NMS) and social sciences and humanities (SSH), Reed-Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Springer, and Taylor & Francis increased their share of the published output, especially since the advent of the digital era (mid-1990s). Combined, the top five most prolific publishers account for more than 50% of all papers published in 2013. Disciplines of the social sciences have the highest level of concentration (70% of papers from the top five publishers), while the humanities have remained relatively independent (20% from top five publishers). NMS disciplines are in between, mainly because of the strength of their scientific societies, such as the ACS in chemistry or APS in physics. The paper also examines the migration of journals between small and big publishing houses and explores the effect of publisher change on citation impact. It concludes with a discussion on the economics of scholarly publishing.
It’s published in PLOS ONE, which is an open source journal.
There is an interesting discussion going on at my library. As others may be doing, we are considering the proper mix between print and online resources. ABA law school accreditation Standard 606 now allows for “a core collection of essential materials through ownership or reliable access.” It’s that last part, “reliable access,” that triggers deep soul searching of what to buy in print or what to buy as an electronic subscription. Tempering the rule are other qualifications that state the core collection should support faculty scholarship and the curriculum, and that a collection that consists of a single format may violate Standard 606.
In this context I’ve recommended that we drop the National Reporter System, ALRs, CJS, multiple state codes, and selected treatises that are online. This may sound radical to some. I know that law schools and libraries are experiencing budget cuts due to lower enrollment. That drives part of the analysis. Another factor that bears thought is what we teach these days. The legal writing program at DePaul started teaching all electronic research. We experienced a drop in library visits as a consequence. No more treasure hunts, no answering the same questions over and over at the reference desk.
I can remember how far we’ve come in electronic access. We used to teach print resources because that’s what the legal market had out there. Now electronic access to case law and other primary sources is ubiquitous. At one time it was viable to teach print because the databases were based on print. Understand the organization of print and the online version would make more sense. That’s not so true anymore. Online database providers no longer think in terms of echoing print other than citation and star paging. Certainly there was a time when case law on Westlaw was organized by reporter. Not anymore. It’s all jurisdictional, and that seems natural now compared to looking for a database containing the Northeastern Reporter.
Look at how citators have changed. There was a time when Shepards online would be no more current than the latest print update. Even the CD-ROM product mirrored print. Now everything is dynamic. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to subscribe to the print edition at this point. We cancelled our print copies years ago. If anything was made easier by online access, Shepards, KeyCite, and citators in general are it. They are more complete, can be filtered, and everything is spelled out instead of interpreting symbols attached to citations.
Then there are law reviews. I have to say how much I like Hein Online when it comes to law reviews. Everything back to day one is there in PDF format more or less. We still get paper copies of law reviews but discard them once they appear on Hein. No more binding these books for the collection. Google Scholar works as a handy index to Hein content as well as other scholarly databases.
So now the next question is what is the proper mix for print and online? I know that some libraries have already dropped major primary resources such as reporters. In one sense, we are behind the curve on making that set of decisions. Never in my career had I thought I would be part of this kind of decision. Times change. I find that I’m not very sentimental about physical materials that no one uses at my library.
Below is the stack from Matt Dunie’s, President of Data-Planet, Nov. 8th presentation at the 2013 Charleston Conference. Hat tip to Gary Price’s LJ infoDocket post. See also Sue Polanka’s No Shelf Required post. Links to archived webcasts for some of the Conference’s sessions are available here. — Joe
Well perhaps and, if so, apparently only in … wait for it … Spain! As a friend would say, “you can’t make this shit up.”
Thomson Reuters ProView™ has partnered with third-party vendors to offer our customers the ability to manage their eBook libraries. This program allows users to read eBooks using the proprietary ProView platform, while using the library management system they prefer.
Through a library management system setup, librarians have a single view of all eBooks in their library – regardless of source – and will be able to manage eBook acquisitions, cataloging and circulation. Libraries can purchase an eBook copy that can be accessed by any user – either named or anonymous – with check-in and check-out functionality.
Thomson Reuters Spain has currently partnered with Odilo on library management system development. Additional affiliations with partners in Spain will be available for release later in 2013. Visit Odilo’s website to learn more about their capabilities.
Quoting from Library Management Systems.
One also cannot make this shit up — No one from Spain was in the audience when a TR rep displayed the above-linked web page to pitch the Company’s “library management systems” for ProView titles at an eBook session during ORALL’s Annual Meeting.
Here in the U.S., law librarians solve the problems created by “legal solutions” vendors like Thomson Reuters. At this point in time, I believe the solution lies in not buying a single TR ProView eBook until the acquired eBook can be loaned out and can be discovered by a vendor agnostic OPAC. Rumor has it that TR was but no longer is discussing the OPAC matter with EOS. — Joe
Starting at slide 11, Bess Reynolds, Technical Services Manager, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, addresses pain points, budgetary concerns and the failure of vendors to develop library management tools, issues all law libraries, large and small in the private and public sectors, face in acquiring and maintaining today’s digital resources. From her Oct. 4, 2013 presentation at LLNE’s Fall Meeting, “Acquiring and Maintaining Resources for the New Collection” [complete stack below], pain points include:
- Substituting digital formats for print without proper notice;
- Digital versions of print serials that circulated to many may come with a prohibitively high single user price tag; and
- Creating proprietary platforms for eBooks thwarting single silo for discovery
With respect to vendors failing to develop library management tools, Bess notes that busy lawyers don’t have time to register themselves on web sites, manage their passwords and learn new platforms. Internal IT department restrictions designed to protect an institution’s network results in attorneys and librarians not able to install applications or vendor plug-ins. And, of course, any new vendor software scheme requires extensive in-house testing.
It is “important for publishers to hear directly from their customers” because official AALL vendor relations dogma maintains that “we don’t all have the same needs and perspectives.” I believe Bess Reynolds’ presentation underscores that working law librarians are grappling with the same issues regardless of their institutional setting when it comes to acquiring and maintaining resources for the new normal in collection development. — Joe