May 172009

Probably old news for most, but the Library Journal annual survey by Lee Van Orsdel and Kathleen Born is as good this year as ever: Reality Bites: Periodicals Price Survey 2009 (Library Journal, 15 April 2009).

The authors are very pessimistic on the impact of the global recession and the prospect for library cuts. They report ARL saying that most of its 123 libraries will lose funding in 2010. Cuts are estimated at 5-15% for FY10, with the same or higher in FY11, and possibly cuts in FY12 and beyond.

The article also covers open access, reporting that over half of NIH-funded articles are now getting deposited in PubMedCentral, with 400,000 users accessing 700,000 articles each day; Orsdel & Born don’t think the “Fair Copyright” Act will get passed but also say it’s unlikely Obama would sign it into law even if it were passed.

Consortia deals and bundles continue to be the dominant business model – libraries now acquire more than half of their content in bundles of 50 titles or more.

Finally, the authors describe as a “startling twist” Outsell’s Nov 2008 analysis that suggested that simply having the content wouldn’t be enough, and that the future of subscriptions would be in providing workflow tools and services to help users manage the existing ocean of information. Since Outsell (and others) have been predicting the importance of workflow solutions since at least 2002 it’s hard to see what’s startling about it, but it’s certainly an important trend. It’s also another trend (like consortia big deals) that favours large publishers (who can afford to invest in workflow technology and have a breadth of content to underpin it), potentially at the expense of smaller, society publishers. Some 25% of Thomson revenues now come from software-based products, according to this article by David Worlock of Outsell from 2007, which sees workflow integration as a potential disruptive technology.

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