SCHOLARLY COMMUNICATION ISSUES
A NEWSLETTER FOR THE UIUC COMMUNITY
Issue No. 19
May 20, 2002
Paula Kaufman, University Librarian
UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS PRESS BACK FROM BRINK
With the tough economic climate having an adverse effect on university press bottom lines, it's nice to hear of press that's exceeding expectations, such as the University of Arkansas Press. Perilously close to being shut down just a few years ago, thanks to a $1 million endowment fund from hometown corporate sponsor Tyson Foods, a successful restructuring, and stepped up marketing efforts, the press now appears to be on solid footing. According to press reports, net sales have exceeded goals set by director Lawrence Malley for the past two fiscal years, topping $500,000 each year.
Perhaps most important, the press is now running a break-even operation. "The real story is the press is healthy," Collis Geren, UA vice provost for research and dean of the
graduate school, told reporters at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette this week. "I have no doubt the press is going to be here to stay in the future."
This news is especially welcome, considering that just four years earlier in March of 1998, UA Chancellor John A. White announced plans to close the press, citing its inability to turn a profit and a deficit in excess of $4 million. A deluge of support from academe helped the press avoid that fate. Since then, the generous endowment grant from Tyson and Lawrence Malley’s management have established the press as a solid performer--even in recession. The UA press operates on annual budget of about $1.1 million, which supports roughly 13 employees and publication of about 20 books annually. But not about to rest on recent success, the press plans to step up its efforts. Thanks to a recent $300 million gift from WalMart scion Sam Walton, a $4 million endowment goal has been set for the press, and Malley told reporters that he hopes eventually to publish as many as 35 news titles annually. (LJ Academic Newswire, May 2, 2002.)
US SUPREME COURT ISSUES COPA RULING; CASE HEADS BACK TO APPELLATE COURT
The US Supreme Court has declined to rule that the Child Online Protection Act is unconstitutional. The controversial online porn law makes it illegal for Web site
operators to expose children to pornography and other material deemed "harmful to minors". An appellate court ruled that subjecting material posted on the Internet to a
community standards test would effectively force all Web sites to conform to the moral code of the nation's most restrictive community. Eight of nine US Supreme Court justices disagreed, vacating that decision and remanding the case back to the appeals court. Several judges, led by Justice Kennedy made clear that they thought the statute was likely unconstitutional. The court did not lift an injunction preventing enforcement of the law, however. Decision at
MASSIVE CUTS THREATEN MASSACHUSETTS LIBRARIES
Facing a reported $2 billion budget gap, legislators in Massachusetts have drastically slashed support for library budgets, leaving the state's publicly funded college and
university libraries struggling to purchase much-needed materials. According to information provided by the Massachusetts Conference of Chief Librarians and Public
Higher Education Institutions, under the current budget bill, funding for new acquisitions at Massachusett's 29 public colleges will be cut from $14 million in 2001 to $5 million this year, a whopping 64 percent reduction. And while at least one member of the Massachusetts legislature has proposed an amendment to restore $5 million in library funds, another proposal currently on the table eliminates library funding altogether. According to local reports, the largest hit will be felt at the state's flagship campus, UMass Amherst, where library materials funding has reportedly plunged nearly $2 million, from $5.4 million to $3.5 million.
According to Joel Fowler, assistant director for collections at UMass Boston, most of the state funds were used entirely for subscriptions and books, and the slashing of the funds has "meant a lot of juggling, and a lot of late juggling." Fowler says the budget numbers were announced so late that many libraries had already resubscribed to journals, only to find that the money to pay for them was not going to materialize. "In our case, we are looking at a rescue from the campus administration," said Fowler. "We'd already made commitments, then had to go back to journal vendors to see what we could cancel. We still don't really know what we were successful at canceling." Fowler said the UMass Boston campus already had little money for book purchases because of serials inflation. Those purchases will now be cut further as will serial acquisitions, and the UMass campuses will turn to technology to help fill the void. Fowler conceded that licensing items the library would usually purchase is a concern, but that librarians were doing their best to keep resources available in some form. "We just can't own everything," said Fowler. "We're shifting to access." Fowler praised the efforts of campus administrators in working to keep the library stocked, but admitted that it was possible the library would get little to no assistance from the campus or the state in the next difficult fiscal year. (LC Academic News Wire, May 14, 2002)
PROPOSAL TO TAKE PRINTING FROM GPO THREATENS LIBRARIES
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has proposed that printing now done through the Government Printing Office (GPO) be put out for competitive bid; OMB estimates this would yield savings of $50-$70 million. A GPO spokesperson said there is no way to substantiate this estimate. Librarians and those who use their collections might be especially concerned by the proposal, since agencies may feel less pressure to comply with requirements to distribute documents to depository libraries. According to the GPO, a 1997–98 Inspector General’s review of the National Institutes of Health—which in 1988 gained authority to do its own printing, and still does so—showed that depository libraries were losing out. "More than 78 percent [of publications] were classified as fugitive documents," he said. While the GPO monopoly is set in federal law, OMB head Mitch Daniels—according to Government Executive—said a 1996 Justice Department opinion found that Congress couldn’t force executive branch agencies to use GPO. The proposal goes to the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council, which governs how executive branch agencies buy things. It must go out to public notice and comment over the next few months. http://libraryjournal.reviewsnews.com/index.asp?layout=article&articleid=CA216921&display=breakingNews
COLLEGE STORES SEE SALES RISE
College students spent an average of $670 at college stores, up 8.2% from the previous year, according to the National Association of College Stores’ annual financial survey of 364 stores. Total sales at college stores amounted to $10.7 billion. A major factor in the sales gain was an increase in the sale of computer products to $804 million and of course materials, which rose 4.4% to $7.1 billion. About 1% of college store sales took place over the Internet. For more information about the study go to http://www.nacs.org/public/research/financial.asp
COPYRIGHT SCHOLAR PROFILED IN THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Pamela Samuelson, law professor at UC Berkeley, has been fighting what she sees as overzealous and innovation-stifling expansion of copyright laws in the high tech arena. She’s written for academic journals, filed amicus briefs in landmark cases, organized academic conferences where ideas can be refined and disseminated, and, with her husband Robert Glushko, has helped launch two law-school clinics that specialize in the intersection of law and technology. An in-depth profile of this energetic activist appears in the Wall Street Journal Online, May 13, 2002. http://online.wsj.com/public/article_print/0,,SB1020884132662876320,00.html
WSJ CHRONICLES COPYRIGHT ACTIVISM PIONEER
The WSJ runs a nice feature on Professor Pam Samuelson, a law professor at the Boalt School of Law at UC-Berkeley. The article chronicles Samuelson's activism in the copyright arena including recent battles over the DMCA. http://online.wsj.com/article_email/0,,SB1020884132662876320,00.html
As we head into the summer months the time between issues of this newsletter will likely increase. Please continue to send me your comments and suggestions. And thanks to those of you who have pointed me to interesting items that I would not have otherwise found.