[“Publishers, Agents, User, and Libraries: Coming of Age in the E-World” by Dan Tonkery]

A helpful resource for those wanting to stay on top of serial collection issues can find it in Routledge/Taylor & Francis’ journal – The Serials Librarian – accessible online via subscription through its Informaworld. Published 8 times a year, the journal is focused on the current issues, innovations, viewpoints on serial and continuing resource management as well as those involved in the serials information chain. Particularly handy is its serials report, present in every issue, that although not to the minute or daily current, gives an overview on current issues and news related to serials and electronic resource management, new publications, and what’s happening with consortia, libraries, vendors and publishers.

An example of topical currency can be found in Dan Tonkery’s article titled “Publishers, Agents, Users, and Libraries: Coming of Age in the E-World.” And the premise is, and read my lips:


You can see this in…

Quantity (based on 2009 statistics):

The volume of journals now available online: 20,000 and counting
Number of online articles: 50 million and counting

Internet Time:

The fast-moving journals going from print to online matches our present “Internet time.”
User requirements and temperaments now are on-demand or “give it to me now.”

Effects on parties in New World Order:

  1. Publishers – aggregation, revenue streams, monopolies, the BIG Deal, new business structure, vehicle in which to survive in the collapse of the publishing industry, and what options for small publishers to swim in these shark-infested waters of change and conglomeration?
  2. Users – more research information available and accessible.
  3. Subscription Agents – position being eaten up by publishers, consortia and libraries – needs to define itself or perish.
  4. Libraries – holding the BAG with little resources, huge workloads and increased demands.

The Big Deal and Quantity over Quality:

As evidenced by the Big Deal scenario of EBSCO’s exclusivity announcement, these behemoth publisher packages may not even be affordable to libraries. Smaller journals will not be supported, book budgets will be decimated, specific journals required by professors for research, study and instruction will be unavailable, and the issue of quantity over quality begins to override the state of the collection. An example of this is evidenced through the online reference resources at the University of Illinois. Prior to the current encyclopedic offering, UIUC used to provide the #1 highest quality, most accurate and detailed encyclopedia available – the Oxford Encyclopedia with all its offshoots. Despite the belief and need that a top-notch academic university should contain the best reference and journal resources possible, money and packaging played into the game and instead, a mediocre encyclopedia is offered.


Consortial buying can be extremely helpful for smaller libraries yet problems exist in that most consortiums focus solely on getting the pricing deal and provide no assistance in publisher negotiation, tech support, and access control assistance. A player in the consortial arena who is bucking this scenario, and doing so successfully by the way, is SCELC – Statewide California Electronic Library Consortium based in Los Angeles. Besides introducing the power and cost effectiveness of consortial buying, SCELC offers technical support, assistance in negotiating with publishers, peer-reviewed information on electronic journals, grants and scholarships, and its unique vendor day and colloquium held every year. In a sense, the SCELC has also incorporated the roles of “subscription agent” and “publishing tech and administrative support” into its business model.

Jockeying Players:

It’s a time where there is much jockeying around among the players in the information world and, hopefully, libraries can come out of this like the racehorse Mine That Bird (bought for a song and trained on a budget) in the 2009 Kentucky Derby, or at least cross the finish line intact…