Schwerdtfeger Library News:  September-October 2001

By Jean Phillips

2001-2002 Journal Cancellations and SSEC Publishing Practices

Journal cancellations have become the norm in recent years and this year is no different.  What is different is that all libraries of the University of Wisconsin System (not just the Madison campus) are working together to cancel high-cost subscriptions.  Library budgets will remain flat during the next biennium; in fact, only two of the last ten years have seen budget increases, yet estimates show that the cost of journals alone will increase by about 9% in the next year. 

The most expensive subscriptions and hence the largest cuts will come from commercial publishers like Elsevier, Kluwer, and Springer.  Why?  Cost is certainly a prime issue.  But consider that many research journals are now owned and controlled by a few commercial publishers whose priority is maximizing profits rather than expanding access to research information.  The journal market has been consolidated by mergers and takeovers.  Did you know that Reed Elsevier now owns:  Butterworths Publishers, Congressional Information Service, Endeavor (the company from whom the UW libraries purchased their catalog software), Engineering Information (Compendex), Excerpta Medica (medical), Harcourt (including Academic Press), Lexis-Nexis (legal and news), Marquis Who's Who, Martindale-Hubbell (legal), Pergamon Press to name only a very few on a very long list!  Crispin Davis, CEO of Elsevier, has said that the "[Reed Elsevier] investment programme is building revenue momentum and we remain on track to deliver on our financial goals of above-market revenue growth and double-digit earnings growth for 2002 and beyond…."(See the CNN Financial Network story).  Elsevier has been very successful in its infiltration of nearly every academic discipline -- science, medicine, law, engineering.

Atmospheric and related sciences journals slated for cancellation this year are:  Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, Atmospheric Research, Computers and Geosciences, Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors, Quaternary Research, Applied Mathematics and Computation, Journal of Atmospheric Chemistry, Boundary Layer Meteorology.   Elsevier publishes six of these titles.  You will continue to receive our current contents for coverage.  When you need an article that is not available on campus we will, as always, continue to purchase from other providers or if it's something for which you can wait, we'll use interlibrary loan.  You may want to look at the UW-Madison proposed serial cancellations for a complete look at the cancellations as they are quite extensive.

Ken Frazier, in his September 6, 2001 letter to faculty, scientists and researchers encourages you to have a say in the marketing, licensing and pricing practices of commercial publishers and further, to consider what it means to sign over copyright to a commercial publisher.  The University Library Committee in a recent annual report made the same recommendation to faculty.

I looked at the publishing practices of scientists and faculty within SSEC to see whether my perception matched reality.  Of 121 peer-reviewed papers published during 2000-2001 for which I have a record, I found the following: 

Publisher      No. of Papers
AMS                     62
AGU                     23
Elsevier                   4
Springer                  4
Wiley                      1
AP                          4
Pergamon                1
Other Societies       22
TOTAL                 121

Scientists and faculty within SSEC are publishing approximately 88% of their papers with professional societies or organizations and 12% of their papers with commercial publishers.  I will forward these numbers to Ken Frazier.  If you have additional comments, please send them to me or directly to Ken Frazier, Director of the UW-Madison Libraries.

Privacy of Library Records

The Washington Post, on September 17th, reported that "hijackers may have accessed computers at public libraries" to exchange information and messages.  Libraries have cooperated with the FBI by releasing computer lab sign-in lists to agents to aid them in their investigation.

On September 20, the American Library Association issued the Library Community Statement on Freedom of Speech and Access to Information.  In it, the Association reaffirms that libraries continue to be cultural and living symbols for the Constitutional freedoms that we enjoy by maintaining, on a daily basis, the balance between access to information for all, the privacy rights of users, and the responsibility to cooperate with law enforcement agencies.

All states, including Wisconsin, have a confidentiality statute of some kind that specifically recognizes and protects library records.  Chapter 43, Section 30 of the Wisconsin Statutes states:

43.30 Public library records. (1) Records of any library
which is in whole or in part supported by public funds, including
the records of a public library system, indicating the identity of
any individual who borrows or uses the library’s documents or
other materials, resources or services may not be disclosed except
by court order or to persons acting within the scope of their duties
in the administration of the library or library system, to persons
authorized by the individual to inspect such records or to libraries
as authorized under subs. (2) and (3).within this state or in adjacent 
states to provide or receive library services.

For further information, read Q&A on the confidentiality and privacy of library records.

Updated 2/14/02