[OAI-general] Publishers Removing "Content" from Aggregators

Seth Johnson seth.johnson@realmeasures.dyndns.org
Thu, 20 Mar 2003 07:31:35 -0500

(Forwarded from ALA/ACRL Scholarly Communications list)

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Publishers removing material from aggregators?
Date: Tue, 18 Mar 2003 15:40:40 -0500
From: "Susan K. Martin" <martin@skmassociates.net>
To: "ACRL Scholarly Communication T.F." <SCHOLCOMM@ala.org>

Your help with information regarding your experience is sought:

I've received a question from an ACRL section, concerned about the
increasingly common occurrence experienced by some libraries of aggregators
losing full-text  content when publishers attempt to sell their own
journals' full-text directly to libraries, and therefore pull that content
out of the aggregators' package.  Apparently  CSA/Sage is an example of

As described by section members, they are worried that this trend creates
pricing inequities and limits access to materials,  just at a time when many
if not most  academic libraries are facing budget cuts.

I tried gaining additional information by doing some searching on the Web,
but wasn't terribly successful.  Do any of you have experiences with this
kind of shift  away from aggregators to individual publishers, together with
its ramifications for access and budgets?


Sue Martin
Visiting Program Officer for Scholarly Communication

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: Publishers removing material from aggregators?
Date: Tue, 18 Mar 2003 18:12:47 -0800
From: "Aline Soules" <asoules@csuhayward.edu>
To: "ACRL Scholarly Communication T.F." <SCHOLCOMM@ala.org>

This has been going on for some time.  It's not new.  The trick is to  build
into your contract some reimbursement or credit on a pro-rated  basis if
some information is removed (regardless of whether that  decision is the
publisher's or the aggregator's).  Beyond that, I'm not  sure what we can
do.  Complain to the publisher?  Certainly, but will it  make a difference? 
Only if we do it "in bulk."

The trouble, in this case, is that the aggregator suffers, although you 
could argue that the aggregator is like the library in this case--taking 
the blame for something that happens up the line.

Eventually, however, librarians are going to have to take a stand.  If  we
pay for it, we should get it.  If it can no longer be provided, we  should
get a rebate.  If the publisher does something we don't like, we  need to
talk to them about it and, ultimately, agree not to buy their  product until
they provide the kind of security and service we want.

I know it sounds much simpler than it is, but I can't see how else we  can
make progress.


Aline Soules
Associate University Librarian
California State University, Hayward
25800 Carlos Bee Blvd.
Hayward, CA  94542
tel. 510-885-4596
fax  510-885-2049
e-mail:  asoules@csuhayward.edu

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: Publishers removing material from aggregators?
Date: Wed, 19 Mar 2003 09:11:55 -0600
From: "David Wright" <Wright@mc.edu>
To: "ACRL Scholarly Communication T.F." <SCHOLCOMM@ala.org>

The vendors may suffer (I doubt it!), but those who ultimately suffer are
the students who will not have access to the  material.  This will happen
for at least two reasons:

1) Students will not aggressively pursue alternate databases with different
(and sometimes clunky) interfaces when they are  used to the aggregators'
interface.  They want what they want fast. 

2) Financial.  Many libraries have no new money to tap into to subscribe to
yet another database that may have limited use  by students.  We are a small
university and I have a difficult time convincing myself that the amount we
are paying for some  of our specialized databases is worth it for the
limited use they receive overall.

I have a hard time being gracious to the vendors (esp. Sage) who have pulled
their content  from an aggregator (in our case  EBSCOhost).  I will not be
able to subscribe to their content.  I have no new money.

Many publishers do NOT understand how the information they publish is used
by the end user.  I have a brother-in-law who  is a specialty publisher of
books and journals and I had to explain to him why libraries needed to have
unlimited campus use  licenses for his online journals.  He couldn't imagine
why students wouldn't come to the physical library building to use the 
online journals, just as they have used print.  Go figure!

With the fiscal climate in many libraries, maybe the publishers who pull
their data from the aggregators will find out that  libraries really aren't
able to just pay for everything that comes down the pike.

--David Wright

David A. Wright
Library Director
Leland Speed Library/Mississippi College
P.O. Box 4047
Clinton  MS  39058
Voice 601.925.3438  Fax 601.925.3435

E-mail:  wright@mc.edu

"Consider the lilies."

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: RE: Publishers removing material from aggregators?
Date: Wed, 19 Mar 2003 09:41:32 -0600
From: "Fyffe, Richard" <rfyffe@ku.edu>
To: "ACRL Scholarly Communication T.F." <SCHOLCOMM@ala.org>

  There have been several cases of content disappearing. In addition to the
Sage titles, I believe that Harvard Business  Review moved from having a
relationship with multiple aggregators to an exclusive relationship with
Ebsco (is that still in  effect?), and the content changes in Academic
Universe have been dizzying.

  I think David and Aline make good points -- particularly the reminder that
libraries should include a clause in their  contracts with aggregators that
loss of content above a certain threshold should trigger a rebate, and the
observation that  publishers often don't understand how their products are
used or the consequences of choosing one or another distribution  channel.
We need to work with publishers to help them understand these things better. 

  But as Aline notes, we need to remember that the aggregators are in a
position similar to that of libraries: they are  mediators with little
control over the first-party publishers whose content they distribute.
Libraries can't control the content  interruption when a publisher's server
goes down, and it's important for our users (faculty, especially) to better
understand  the risks inherent in our network structure. Similarly,
aggregators can't fully control the business decisions made by their 
suppliers. As long as scholarly information is treated as a market commodity
we will face these vagaries and need to  understand them as risks. Another
argument for open-access models in which the revenue stream is independent
of  subscription ... 

  -- Richard

Richard Fyffe
Assistant Dean of Libraries for Scholarly Communication
University of Kansas
502 Watson Library
1425 Jayhawk Blvd.
Lawrence, KS 66045
Voice: (785) 864-4611
Fax: (785) 864-5311
Email: rfyffe@ku.edu

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: Publishers removing material from aggregators?
Date: Wed, 19 Mar 2003 13:00:30 -0500
From: "Malcolm Hayward" <mhayward@iup.edu>
To: "ACRL Scholarly Communication T.F." <SCHOLCOMM@ala.org>

If a journal editor/publisher can add something (a small but I think  pretty
good scholarly journal, Studies in the Humanities), from our  end the whole
issue is filled with unknowns. If we sign with Ebsco, or  Gale, or anyone,
how much do we charge? If we are online with one of  these aggregators, will
that spell the end of our subscriptions for  printed copies of the journal?
(I would REALLY like some feedback on  THAT one.) Should we go entirely
online? Such are the questions often  raised on EDITOR-L, and as far as I
can tell, no one has come close to  a definitive answer. And the fear of
giving over our publication  operations, to some extent, to an aggregator is
in no small part a  thinking about the future. Say Ebsco or some other major
provider goes  bankrupt. Can't happen? Bet it can. Then what happens to the 
distribution system for scholarly communication? I will keep printing 
copies on actual paper for as long as I can, but what's coming? ... 

Malcolm Hayward, Editor
Studies in the Humanities

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Publishers removing material from aggregators?]]
Date: Wed, 19 Mar 2003 21:17:10 -0800
From: Julia Gelfand <jgelfand@uci.edu>
To: "ACRL Scholarly Communication T.F." <SCHOLCOMM@ala.org>

My experience in recent years mirrors exactly what has been described - the
newspapers were the first to do this, originally contributing content to
packages and now moreorless requiring individual subscriptions to each
newspaper archive.  Lexis-Nexis is infamous for changing content and extent
of backfiles; the Gale Group is also notorious for not offering full
coverage of many issues that they index.  Thus, the story about     
selective content is not a new one.  Monitoring the shifts is labor
intensive at times of severe shortages where staff is already performing a
range of duties.

Information providers are becoming far more multifunctional than just
serving as a mount for databases, or as a serials vendor.  Serving as an
aggregator suggests that they provide a range of services confusing
customers about what they do best.  

I think that previous commentators are totally correct when they suggest
libraries may want to educate their user populations about the network
structure of how we get information and the different models of syndication
and aggregation.  

The Sage effort to offer packages of up to 20 year revolving backfiles of
their journal collections in specified fields, where a subscriber does not
have perpetual access is problematic to me.  Libraries want online access
for a variety of reasons - searching, linking from databases, user
preferences, space planning, etc.  However, annual payments for backfiles
seems redundant.   Taylor & Francis is also changing its course for fulltext
access to its extended family of publications.  From offering several
options, via Ingenta, etc, now T&F and its entire list is moving to
MetaPress, a division of EBSCO, which has hosted some T&F content for quite
a while and more is migrating.  I have also just learned that MetaPress is
also working with Springer and will be the new host of Springer Link. See

Learning to cope with even greater dosages of ambiguity appears to be our
natural lifestyle these days.  How successful libraries will be in
influencing publishers remains to be seen.  But I think that there is work
to be done here.

To complicate things further, we are seeing professional societies increase
subscription fees for online access by 75% (AAAS for Science Online in 2003)
trying to offset reduction in membership by raising institutional
subscriptions to maintain the revenue streams. This to me is a more
fundamental problem related to scholarly communication and one I would like
to see addressed.

Julia Gelfand


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