Re: Library cancelations

From: Albert Henderson <NobleStation_at_COMPUSERVE.COM>
Date: Mon, 27 Sep 1999 19:34:29 -0400

on 24 Sep 1999 Katherine Porter <> wrote:

>> From: Albert Henderson <>
>> In the robust economy over the recent years, there was
>> no urgency to "containing" library spending. Yet so many
>> librarians have swollowed whole the administrative need
>> to keep down or cut library spending.
>> Let university cut its profits.
>I am really tired of this argument. Whether the olden days were
>"golden" or not, I think libraries today are doing a much better job
>of supporting our users' information needs than we did when I started
>in a chemistry library in 1980. Indeed we had more paper titles on the
>shelves then than we do now, but we are providing more of what people
>need today than we ever did then. I don't think the cancellation
>projects hurt us nearly as much as Mr. Henderson would like to have the
>world believe. What was the advantage of having runs of journals that
>were never used and never cited? That certainly didn't make me a better
>librarian or fill the information needs of the chemists any better than
>the wide range of print and electronic titles we can supply today. The
>chemists have told me this if I couldn't see it for myself.
>Sure I'd like to have more money to spend on chemistry material. Who
>wouldn't. But those dollars certainly wouldn't be used to buy more
>print titles to gather dust on the shelves. I think we are wiser
>consumers now and pay much more careful attention to acquiring
>materials and access that are going to meet our patrons real needs.

Your situation may be appopriate to your perspective.
In general the facts suggest otherwise:

1. Interlibrary borrowing increased 151% since 1986,
according to ARL Statistics.

2. ARL also reported that the average fill time for
ILB is over two weeks.

3. The deficit in U.S. collections spawned a
commercial document delivery industry. Hundreds of
thousands of photocopies are imported by U.S.
libraries annually. This represents a loss of
leadership and vulnerability that U.S. politicians
may well come to regret.

4. Citation studies indicate U.S. researchers cite
U.S. authors most of the time, ignoring the 2/3
of all research reported by foreign authors.

5. Containment of library spending has limited
career opportunities for librarians. The shut-down
of the Columbia MLS program was justified largely
on this basis.

6. It is also clear from remarks made to the ARL
by U KS provost Shulenberger that association
profits are targeted for extinction along with
commercial publishers, copyright, tenure, etc.

We expect scientists to be in command of the facts,
the methods, and the literature. Facts 1 and 2
suggest to me that universities deliberately
undermined the effectiveness of faculty and
researchers by debasing resources. Library
performance failures contribute to insularity,
duplication, and error in research.

My more important point is this set of facts --
together with the library cancellations that were
forced by manipulating budgets -- is clear evidence
that U.S. university administrators do not care
about the quality of research and education. They
care only about financial goals and management power.
They are the enemies of the library and library
patronsin what a recent CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION
article called the war on faculty.

In this forum this evidence means that financial
support for technology from this element is not
dependable. Promises of support by this element
cannot be trusted. This appears to be a wide-
spread opinion among anyone who has dealt with
administrators for a long time.
Albert Henderson
Received on Wed Feb 10 1999 - 19:17:43 GMT

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