Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Librarians strike back

at predatory journal pricing:
And so we were left, after 16 emails in just one of the threads of emails on this, with no idea how pricing was actually being calculated, but a strong feeling that it goes something like this: SAGE looks at our spend from last year, decides what they think we should spend this year, and then bills us for that, but is willing to justify it however will make us happy through some combination of negotiated price increases, holdings values for a time period defined by them, top-up fees, upgrade fees, and inflationary upticks. Very few of those phrases have actual definable meanings. Every email we got seemed to offer us a new set of prices, broken down in new ways, with a slightly different bottom line. Each exchange produced more questions, and few answers. (And, perhaps, the whole thing can be explained by saying that the vendor has a perfectly explicable pricing policy but we just didn’t get it… but if two experienced collection development and administration librarians “can’t get it”, isn’t that a problem in and of itself?) So, as I explained to our faculty, as a steward of this institution’s funds, as a steward of our students’ tuition dollars, and as a steward of resources dedicated to providing good, appropriate access to information for our teaching and learning community, this is not how I choose to do business.
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Well, I’m done, people. Done. I cannot continue doing more with less. I cannot continue signing onto deals that are unclear. I cannot continue agreeing to egregious terms and conditions, to nondisclosure agreements, and to crushing price increases justified only by corporate profit goals. I cannot continue drinking snake oil, and I cannot continue smiling through the pain. I’m done. And so is my library, for every choice in which I have the agency to make smarter, more thoughtful decisions than we’ve chosen to make in the past. So yes, we told the publishers through word, deed, and dollar that this was okay, for a very long time. But for me, that stops now. I’m going to be telling them it’s not okay. It’s not business as usual. It shouldn’t be. It can’t be. And it won’t be.
This librarian blogger is Jenica P. Rogers is Director of Libraries at the State University of New York at Potsdam. May her tribe increase.
(h/t Newapps)

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