subscription costs if acceptable preservation strategies are in place, such as
archiving with third parties.
In addition, there may be greater exposure of research libraries, which
historically have built broader and more diverse collections, to some facets of
the current economic crisis. ARL members tend to collect “long tail” materials
very actively, including many publications produced abroad. These may be
particularly vulnerable to drastic fluctuations in currency exchange rates that
disproportionately increase their prices. The long tail of research library
collecting is also likely to include significant numbers of small publishers and
titles with small circulation bases in the best of times. These will certainly
experience cancellation spirals that reduce their titles’ cost/benefit profiles and
are likely to be more vulnerable to business failure.
Large libraries have also been subject to a novel form of inflation pressure
as some publishers have implemented new pricing models, such as tiered
pricing, that shift revenue generation to larger institutions that are required to
absorb significant price increases to compensate for discounting to other
customers. Publishers implementing changes in pricing models that provide
discounts to small customers by balancing them with increases to larger
customers will be especially likely to force large institutions into cancellation
decisions. Indeed, these pricing models are somewhat counterintuitive given
that the content published come disproportionately from the faculty in
research institutions.
Recommendations to Publishers and Vendors
ARL echoes the ICOLC statement’s advocacy for publishers to adopt flexible
approaches to pricing and avoid reducing content or access as libraries seek to
renegotiate expenditures. The research library community believes it is
important to go further in making recommendations for publishers and
vendors that seek to honor their commitment to enhancing scholarly
communication in these times of unprecedented challenge. These
recommendations are made based on the belief that scholarly publishers
committed to enhancing the effectiveness of the scholarly communication
system are prepared to act to minimize negative impacts on the system
resulting from economic conditions.
ARL calls on publishers to consider carefully decisions to invest in new
products, functionality, and marketing efforts. Any new investments
RLI 262 9
ARL Statement to Scholarly Publishers on the Global Economic Crisis
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C O N T I N U E D
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FEBRUARY 2009 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A BIMONTHLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC
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