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The Nonsubscription Side of Periodicals: Changes in Library Operations and Costs between Print and Electronic Formats

 

report cover

 

June 2004

 

Copyright 2004 by the Council on Library and Information Resources. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transcribed in any form without permission of the publisher. Requests for reproduction should be submitted to the Director of Communications at the Council on Library and Information Resources.

 

Acknowledgments

About the Authors

Foreword

Executive Summary

Introduction

Literature Review

Study Design and Data Collection

Periodicals Operations and How They Are Changing

Data Analysis: A Life-Cycle Approach

Total Costs and the Transition Path

Conclusion

Appendixes

Appendix A: Electronic Infrastructure Costs

Appendix B: Data-Collection Instruments

Bibliography

Illustrations

Figures

1. Number of current periodical titles, by format, by library
2. Total periodicals-related hours expended by all libraries, by activity and by format
3. Minutes of staff time expended per title on various periodicals-related activities, average across all participating libraries
4. Staff costs per hour, by library by format
5. Total annual nonsubscription periodicals cost allocation, by library
6. Share of total annual nonsubscription periodicals costs by format, by library
7. Relationship between print and electronic 25-year life-cycle costs
8. Relationship between print and electronic 25-year life-cycle costs, assuming on-campus, ADA-compliant, newly constructed library facility
9. One year after the transition from print to electronic (total cost differential over 25-year life cycle)
10. Total 25-year life-cycle cost differentials as a percentage of annual nonsubscription periodicals expenditures
11. One year after the transition from print to electronic (total cost differential over 25-year life cycle), accounting for duplication between print and electronic formats
12. Total 25-year life-cycle cost differentials as a percentage of annual nonsubscription periodicals expenditures, accounting for duplication between print and electronic formats
13. Relationship between the size and the life-cycle cost of the print collection
14. Relationship between the size and the life-cycle cost of the electronic collection
15. One year after a 50% transition from print to electronic (total cost differential over 25-year life cycle)
A1. Electronic life-cycle findings, both with and without electronic infrastructure
A2. Print life-cycle findings, with and without electronic infrastructure
A3. One year after a complete transition from print to electronic (total cost differential over 25-year life cycle)

Tables

1. Participating libraries, by size
2. Collections under examination at each participating library
3. Total annual nonsubscription cost allocated to electronic periodicals, per title
4. Total annual nonsubscription cost allocated to current issues of print periodicals, per title
5. Total annual nonsubscription cost allocated to backfiles of print periodicals, per volume
6. 25-year costs allocated to print and electronic periodicals, per title
7. Total annual cost allocated to backfiles of print periodicals, per title, assuming on-campus, ADA-compliant, newly constructed library facility


Acknowledgments

In the design of this study, Kevin Guthrie was a valuable member of our "committee," and we thank him for his many contributions.

This study has also benefited from the helpful advice and substantive comments of many readers. We thank William G. Bowen, Rebecca Griffiths, Mark McCabe, Susan Lane Perry, Richard E. Quandt, Emily Ray, Abby Smith, and Donald J. Waters. Linda Harteker, Jennifer Horner, Kathlin Smith, and Dan Terpening offered valuable editorial assistance, and we thank them for improving our manuscript in numerous ways. And we received invaluable research assistance from Lisa Bonifacic, Matt Herbison, and Susanne Pichler throughout the project.

A large number of individuals at the participating libraries played the key role of explaining the study to their campus colleagues and managing the logistics of the survey-form distribution and return. It would have been impossible to conduct this study without them. For their valuable help, we thank Berry Chamness at Bryn Mawr; Ross Atkinson, Jim LeBlanc, and Karen Calhoun at Cornell; Carol Hansen Montgomery at Drexel; Marty Gordon at Franklin & Marshall; Aaron Hartman and John Walsh at George Mason; Arno Kastner at New York University; Sarah Aerni, Fern Brody, Matt Herbison, and Amy Knapp at the University of Pittsburgh; Robert Dugan and Becky Fulweiler at Suffolk; Clarissa Fisher at Western Carolina; Sandy Brooke and Dave Pilachowski at Williams; and Ann Okerson and Marcia Romanansky at Yale. Many other contributors from each participating library also provided invaluable assistance during the process, and we thank them for making this partnership a success.

Finally, we thank the Council on Library and Information Resources for its willingness to help us to share our findings with the community and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which funded the study.

We acknowledge the help that was provided by so many partners, while taking full responsibility for the analysis and conclusions of this study.

Eileen Gifford Fenton
Donald W. King
Ann Okerson
Roger C. Schonfeld

 

About the Authors

Eileen Fenton is executive director of the Electronic-Archiving Initiative, an effort that was launched by JSTOR and incubated by Ithaka, a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to help accelerate the adoption of productive and efficient uses of information technology for the benefit of higher education. She is leading the initiative's effort to develop the organizational elements necessary to ensure the long-term preservation of and access to scholarly literature published in electronic form. Previously the director of production at JSTOR, she has also worked at the Vanderbilt and Yale University libraries.

Donald W. King is research professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences. His 40-year career has focused on research and description of communication services. He began exploring the potential of electronic publishing in the late 1960s through a series of National Science Foundation projects. He and colleagues have performed cost studies of more than 100 academic, special, or public libraries since the early 1980s. He has coauthored 18 books and hundreds of other publications.

Ann Okerson has served as associate university librarian at Yale University since 1995, following 15 years of academic library and library-management experience, several years of work in the commercial sector, and service as a senior program officer at the Association of Research Libraries. In 1996, she organized the Northeast Research Libraries Consortium, a group of 26 large research libraries that negotiates licenses for electronic information and engages in other forms of cooperative activity. In 1997, with funding from the Council on Library and Information Resources, she and the Yale Library staff mounted an online educational resource about library licensing of electronic content in a project called LIBLICENSE.

Roger C. Schonfeld is coordinator of research for Ithaka. His current research is focused on library economics, library history, and new developments in scholarly communication. He is the author of the recently published JSTOR: A History (Princeton University Press). Previously, he was a research associate at The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Foreword

Campuses across the country are rapidly converting their print-based serials collections to the electronic format. Digital technology is changing the ways in which students and faculty seek information, even in traditionally print-intensive disciplines such as history and literary studies.

For almost two decades, observers of scholarly communication have predicted that the transition from print to digital format would have a major and positive impact on publishing, collecting, preserving, and reading. The time is now ripe to take stock of those predictions. It is time to determine where we are in the digital transformation and to assess, on the basis of our accumulated knowledge and experience, what effects digital technology may yet produce.

This report is part of that much-needed assessment effort. It looks into the future of electronic dissemination of scholarship through the lens of experience. Commissioned by Ithaka, the study investigated one aspect of the digital transformation: the ongoing costs of library collections and operations for journals. CLIR is pleased to make the full set of findings widely available to the public.

The study is useful not only for its findings but also for the significant questions it raises about the cost shifts now under way between libraries, publishers, academic administrations, and third-party service providers. These shifts point to the need for staff with new skills, a new array of reader services geared to digital delivery, and a willingness to negotiate new relationships with other units on campus, from academic computing to facilities management.

Although this study does not address the impact of these shifts on publishers and other extramural participants in the chain of scholarly communication, its implications are clear. These entities will be called on to absorb more costs as they assume a greater burden for the technical development of various formats, security measures, and delivery tools. Likewise, the study did not factor into the equation the greatest unknown of all—the long-term cost of digital archiving and service of journal literature. It will be important to address these issues as well to get a fuller picture of the environment in which electronic collections will grow. This study on library impacts is an important place to start.

Abby Smith
Director of Programs, CLIR


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