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Faxon Institute Colloquium

Electronic Publishing and the Scholarly Communication Process

January 7-8, 1998

If there is a theme that emerged from the 1998 Faxon Colloquium on Scholarly Communication Issues, it is that the growing movement toward consortia licensing makes philosophical, professional, and economic sense for libraries and publishers.

However, there is not yet a consensus about what consortial licensing should look like. Even the Roundtable on the Evolution of Licensing Models for Electronic Information only increased awareness of licensing options and the trends affecting both current and future anticipated developments; it did not help set standards.

Taissa Kusma, director of online product development at Academic Press, reviewed the history of information formats, including different types of licensing programs. Academic Press bundles all its journals in a single library license and focuses on consortia [formerly http://www.apnet.com/www/ap/conslist.htm] to minimize the number of contractual relationships while benefiting the maximum number of users. Academic Press says that strategy better enables the publisher to realize its overarching goal of increasing readership of its journals.

Mark Capaldini, president and CEO of Congressional Information Services, added that consortia reduce administrative burdens for the publisher. He was surprised, however, at the large number of consortia purchases.

Ronald McMillen, chief operating officer of American Psychiatric Press Inc., said that because his company is small and has a specialized market, it does not deal with consortia. He opined that APA Press might never do so because of that specialization.

Kusma said Academic Press is staying flexible because this is an experimental period. She noted that not all consortia are the same — some are "tight," some are "loose," and some are in between. Publishers need to recognize that distinction because it affects license negotiations and service. Academic Press has allowed librarians, working through consortia, to mold the contracts in this experimental period.

Howard Dillon, director of the humanities and history libraries at Columbia University, spoke about the complexity librarians face when managing contracts for electronic information. They are being pushed into consortia and consortial licensing by university administrators, who like to see them share and reduce costs. They are befuddled by the lack of precedence in consortial licensing. They are faced with rising costs and the increasing tendency to look at information as a commodity and not as scholarly information.

The differences between libraries, library consortia, and even publishers in this experimental time shone through this panel discussion, as it did in the other roundtables. We have not yet learned how to generalize about trends and patterns in the electronic publication of scholarly information, because we are still trying to understand individual mitigating factors.

Michael Binder is Dean of University Libraries and Kentucky Museum at Western Kentucky University. He holds the M.L.S. from Rutgers University and the Ph.D. in library and information sciences from the University of Pittsburgh. He is the author of Videotex and Teletext: New Online Resources for Libraries (JAI Press, 1985). He has consulted on library automation projects for the Instituto Colombiano del Petroleo and Kentucky State University. Active in library consortia for many years, he is a key player in the development of a Virtual University Library for Kentucky [formerly http://www.uky.edu/OtherOrgs/SAALCK/saalckvi.html]. Recently he was named to the Editorial Board of LIS Management Review, a new electronic journal to be published by the Special Interest Group on Management of the American Society for Information Science.