False Alarm, There is no money crisis in libraries

Yesterday I posted, “The Well is Dry, What Can We Do?” to try to get librarians to stop lamenting over things we can never change like companies (for profit and non-profit) charging more and more for library resources and try to get us to start looking at things we can change like finding alternative funding, increasing institutional partnerships, or friending the hospital CEO.  (I don’t mean friending as in Facebook, I mean actually talking to him/her and getting your case heard.)   But apparently I was totally wrong, there is no money crisis.  Wow I do I have egg on my face.

I want to thank @re_johns for opening my eyes and directing me to “Uninformed, Unhinged, and Unfair — The Monbiot Rant,” a post by Kent Anderson, the CEO Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, responding to an article in the Guardian, “Academic Publishers Make Murdoch Look Like a Socialist.”     

Anderson says,

“But Monbiot seems ignorant of these economic realities — that scholarly articles are available at rock-bottom prices for the specialists who need them, the very core audience who Murdoch would charge the most. He even goes so far as to insinuate that astronomical journal prices account for tuition increases, when in fact the net expenditures of libraries have moved at a fraction of the pace of tuition hikes.”

“The fact is that librarians are intelligent players in the scholarly space who, working with publishers, have secured excellent, sustainable deals for their constituencies to resources that are almost all online now”

Well damn. I guess I was totally wrong when I said that many libraries face flat or reduced budgets. My bad. I guess being faced with reduced budget means I totally can afford each vendor’s price increase and not cut anything.  Whoa I feel so much better.  Once I am done with the library budget I will move to D.C. I hear they have some budgety type problems too. 

I don’t think everything librarians say about publishers and vendors is fair, and I think there are some publishers and vendors that understand our dollars are shrinking.  However, Anderson’s post really makes me feel like there are still some publishers that don’t freaking get it, we don’t have any more money!  A journal may be the best thing in the world but if a library can’t afford it, they can’t afford it.  The mere fact that a journal (or anybody’s product) is perceived as so uber essential that it is a basic need puts librarians even more in a bind because to us it feels like we’re making a choice between paying the gas bill or the electric bill.  We have long since done away with creature comforts, we are down to basic needs and some of us can’t pay for our basic needs.

Anderson’s post also makes it quite obvious that library vendors are not going to stop raising prices so we best stop ranting and start figuring out what we can do for ourselves. If the well is dry then we either have to dig deeper or find water elsewhere.

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