Library access to science and popular science journals: more bad news?

By Grant Jacobs 21/01/2010

Access to some popular science journals may get worse, according to librarians.

News is out that EBSCO has acquired the exclusive rights to on-line full text content distribution many popular magazines, including:

  • Science (Science is not part of this deal; see comment by Science/AAAS director Tom Ryan.)
  • New Scientist
  • Discover

as well as more widely-known titles like:

  • Time
  • Sports Illustrated
  • Forbes
  • Fortune
  • Harvard Business Review

(There are more. The full list appears not to be have made available yet.)

Although the librarians are peering into their crystal balls, they say they’ve seen the results of this sort of “aggregation” before and in the past it’s added to their budgets.

A brief explanation is given in Dorothea Salo’s article, but the essence is of what she says is that “all-in-one” bundles add to library’s costs. I don’t have an inside understanding of library acquisitions but if this is proves true, it’s more bad news for already hard-up libraries. (Apparently it’s known in their circles as “The Big Deal”, following from Kenneth Frazier’s use of term in his article, in which he evokes the Prisoners’ Dilemma to explain his take on these distribution arrangements.)

Science in particular strikes me. Along with Nature and it’s sibling journals, it’s considered among the top general science journals worldwide. (We’ll need a formal confirmation that this is included; I’m relying on the word of the librarians who were at the meeting at which this was announced.)

Others are reporting that they cannot find an official press release. Me neither. EBSCO’s (US) press release site hasn’t anything on this, yet. (Press site checked at 2:320 pm, 21st Jan, New Zealand.) It seems a big move not to be announcing formally first.

Thoughts from open-access pundits? Those with monopoly concerns?

Footnote added 26-Jan-2009: Seeing as Science is not part of this deal, my personal interests in this have been resolved. I’ve left the article stand, striking out the inaccurate passages, as I believe this is the correct approach to this.

0 Responses to “Library access to science and popular science journals: more bad news?”

  • This deal is probably exclusive of other database providers – but not the publisher themselves. Most larger science institutions would get Science, etc directly from the publisher sites.

    However the cost of these is very high either way.

    Chris Good
    Sciences Librarian
    Massey University

  • I think, if you ask you institution’s librarian, you will find that many NZ institutions belong to a large Australasian journal purchasing consortium ( CEIRC ? ), that negotiates prices for all members with most major suppliers. That’s how some NZ institutions used to access expensive research journals that other NZ institutions are purchasing. There were strict rules about public and client access, and presumably costs are shared. Not sure if the system has changed.over the last few years, but I don’t think so.

    Public libraries and commercial institution libraries belong to a different large NZ consortium ( EPIC? ) that presumably also negotiates with the large global providers, including GALE and EBSCO. . EPIC may permit more liberal remote access, but ask your librarian.

    I would not worry about reduced access, as NZ science librarians have been responding positively, and ensuring access, despite ever-decreasing funding for almost the last decade. .

  • Allow me to comment on this blog. The information in the Joyce Valenza blog was inaccurate. We (AAAS/Science) do not have an exclusive content license with EBSCO Publishing for any of our resources. Tom Ryan, Director – AAAS

  • Tom,

    Thanks for clarifying this. It’s good to know! (I’ll edit the article in a minute.)

    I have to admit I was concerned about the accuracy of the “rumour mill” myself, which is why I added “We’ll need a formal confirmation that this is included” and posed the title as a question.