RLI 287  8 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC 2015 University Libraries and Scholarly Communication.3 Since then, ARL staff and many other librarians, publishers, and scholars have continued to refine the discussion of the crisis. This state of affairs has lasted so long that many seem to have accepted it as the status quo some go so far as to blog that the crisis is over4 or ask if it even occurred.5 But these crisis naysayers seem to be outliers, most of whom avoided responding to recent arguments that the crisis intensified with the “great recession” of 2007– 2009 6 they were very quickly refuted.7 The argument over journal pricing remains heated even after sparking the rise of open access journal publishing, a recent heightened period of open access activism including journal boycotts by noted researchers, and the emergence of multiple variants of public and open access publishing. The serials crisis has not been limited to only the price of journal subscriptions in the 25 years since the term was coined. Since the 1960s the exploding number of journals published, especially in the STEM fields, created such a massive body of scholarship that simply finding information became more difficult as the materials required an ever-increasing share of space and portion of the libraries materials support budget.8 When impact factors were defined as a means to rank journals in 1969 they helped to create and emphasize hierarchies of prestige and pedigree among publications, yet finding something specific in the vast sea of information became more challenging, even when restricting the searches to the indexes and catalogs of “quality” publications. This massive increase in STEM titles meant that libraries had to choose which to purchase even the best-funded could not buy everything, and many smaller colleges and universities faced near-impossible decisions over what to cut because no matter how many faculty were part of the selection process, some would continue to loudly argue that they were missing critical teaching and research resources. Although more and more STEM titles were left out of purchasing, the humanities and social sciences bore most of the brunt of these cuts.9 Adding yet more pressure to this dysfunctional system, inter- and cross-disciplinary journals were launched to meet the growing, yet more narrow and specific, needs of rising multidisciplinary forms of academic research and teaching. However, because they were new, did not generate high impact factors, or were known to only a rarefied segment of the faculty, many of these publications did not make it into the libraries or later bundling plans of commercial publishers and aggregators. The 1992 Mellon study, University Libraries and Scholarly Communications, describes the origins of the crisis in detail and finds its key factors to be: scientific and technical journals tend to be more expensive they tend to publish more issues per year, often with more pages and they use more graphics, illustrations, and images than those of the humanities and social sciences.10 In addition to escalating subscription fees, other aspects of the crisis include the bundling or aggregation of subscriptions, the practice of requiring authors to sign over their copyright, and the highly restrictive licenses that can even prohibit authors from using their own work in future publications and the classroom. This study became the basis for Mellon’s allocation of grant funding in a number of interrelated projects, initially by digitizing journal back issues to increase access, then turning to digitizing special collections and other library resources, before moving into shoring up and strengthening the scholarly publishing system, especially with the most recent experiments to expand the digital infrastructure of university presses. The Mellon Foundation was not alone in its efforts the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), among others, also contributed to experiments and advances in the system of
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