Re: Library cancelations

From: (wrong string) édon <jean.claude.guedon_at_UMONTREAL.CA>
Date: Mon, 27 Sep 1999 21:55:25 -0400

Sorry about this, old chap, but I probably know the smell of coffee a
bit better than you!

This said, what you say about profits applies only (at best) to US
*private* Universities. Check the Canadian situation and you will see a
very different landscape. Look at American public universities, and I
suspect you will see a very different landscape again. All
administrators are not Duke administrators! Now check Germany, Japan,
Britain and France and, again, you will see a situation quite different
from your few private universities that probably made a killing on the
stock market.

I will place the rest of my comments in your own text below.

Le Mon, 27 Sep 1999, Albert Henderson a écrit :
> on 27 Sep 1999 Jean-Claude Guédon <jean.claude.guedon_at_UMontreal.CA> wrote:
> > I would really like to support Kitty Porter's
> > reaction to Mr.Henderson's comment. I do not
> > exactly know on what planet Mr. Henderson lives,
> > but it certainly is not on mine. University
> > profits? A wonderful oxymoron in my opinion.
> Wake up and smell the coffee. The CHRONICLE OF
> HIGHER EDUCATION recited the numbers last year.
> (Oct 23, 1998:A39-58) Duke reported $200 million
> revenue after expenses and cut its library
> spending (according to ARL statistics) by $168
> thousand. Princeton's profit was $268 million,
> while cutting the library $376 thousand. Chicago
> had $130 million profit and cut its library by
> $1.2 million. Other universities also reported
> multimillion dollar profits and gave their
> libraries increases ranging from 1% to 13%.
> The total excess of revenue over spending for
> 39 research universities totaled $8.5 billion.

How many public universities in this group?
> > Elsevier and other greedy publishers ensure 40%
> > profit rates
> Which official financial report is the source of
> this 40% profit figure?

I have not had time to find that precise figure again, but I will give
you two sources:

        - One for a 35% profit that dates back to 1995:

Franc A. "Reed Elsevier met en vente sa presse et son edition grand
public." Le Monde (Paris), 1995 July 20;51(15701):15.

As you may know, Le Monde is the premier daily in France, the
equivalent of the NY Times for the States.

        - The second one is a recent Reed-Elsevier press release
(8/5/1999) where, for scientific operations, the profit rate is quoted
at 37.7%

(download the first item at the following URL: and look on page 5.)

So I haven't got the 40% figure? 37.7 will be close enough for the

> and "soothe" university libraries'
> > anxieties by telling them that they are going
> > to make the price increases predictable (of
> > the order of 10-15% per year while the inflation
> > rate is a small fraction of this) rather than
> > containing their own prices.
> The largest part of journal price inflation
> comes from (A) increased papers and (B) reduced
> circulation. If universities dealt with the
> former, and maintained some parity of library/R&D
> financing, the latter effect would be no problem.

Interesting argument : why isn't the price of monographs climbing as
fast. is their paper less expensive than journals' paper?

Reduced circulation? Basic economics teaches that the rise in prices
will reduce the number of items sold...

Library/R&D financing? Perhaps! But can you demonstrate that the price
of instruments and other elements of R&D (mainly R in the
universities, by the way) evolves at the same pace as scientific

> > Let these publishers first behave decently or
> > let us do what is needed to drive them out of
> > business (by supporting initiatives such as
> > Ginsparg's and PubMed Central). They and not
> > university administrators are to blame and we
> > should not let the likes of Mr. Henderson work
> > toward dividing our own house!
> Why should American taxpayers subsidize Canadians?

My dear friend, when a scientist publishes, he or she does so with
taxpayers' money and it is meant to be scrutinized by the whole world.
Einstein's work was not meant to be tucked away in publications so
expensive that only a few rich institutions could buy them. The value
of the Einsteins of the world was never meant to create an inelastic
demand that would leave libraries like sitting duck in front of the
Elseviers of the world. That is what basic reasearch publishing is all
about. Right now, American taxpayers are subsidizing wealthy Dutch,
English, German publishers (plus a few American ones as well). And
Canadian taxpayers are doing the same! American taxpayers would save
money if Ginsparg and PubMed Central became the general format of
publishing. To go back to your coffe metaphor, you ought to learn how
to distinguish between good Arabica and hot milk!

> > > Profit and
market fetishism are really the > plagues of this century!
> Yes, universities expanded their profits by cutting
> libraries and instruction over the objections of
> faculty and faculty senates. They run their financial
> goals like a business, with grudging production of
> knowledge. What happened to the lux et veritas mission
> of research, education, and public service?

Again, be careful not to mix a few private US universities with the
universities of the world. Be a bit more careful and rigorous when you
write, please! Your own figures above mention another situation and I
quote from your text above :

> Other universities also reported
> multimillion dollar profits and gave their
> libraries increases ranging from 1% to 13%.

You might want to delve on these other universities also (how many?
which ones? How many 1%? How many 13%? etc...)
You are better at rhetoric than at reasoning, I fear.

Any Freshman class in English could profitably use your text and teach
what non sequitur means in good Latin.

Jean-Claude Guédon, Ph. D.

> Albert Henderson
> <>
> .
> ..
> ..
> ..
> ..
> .
Jean-Claude Guédon    Département de littérature comparée
Université de Montréal CP 6128, Succursale « Centre-ville »
Montréal, Qc H3C 3J7 Canada
Tél. 1-514-343-6208
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Received on Wed Feb 10 1999 - 19:17:43 GMT

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