Academic Libraries: 2006 First Look Released

The U.S. Department of Educations's National Center for Education Statistics has released Academic Libraries: 2006 First Look.

Here's a description from the announcement:

The Academic Libraries: 2006 First Look summarizes services, staff, collections, and expenditures of academic libraries in 2- and 4-year, degree-granting postsecondary institutions in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The nation's 3,600 academic libraries held 1.0 billion books; serial backfiles; and other paper materials, including government documents at the end of FY 2006, and there were 144.1 million circulation transactions from their general collections. During the same time period, academic libraries' expenditures totaled $6.2 billion.

Here's an excerpt from the "Selected Findings":


  • During Fiscal year (FY) 2006, there were 144.1 million circulation transactions from academic libraries' general collection (table 1).
  • Academic libraries loaned 10.8 million documents to other libraries, and borrowed 10.3 million documents from other libraries in FY 2006 (table 1). In addition to the interlibrary loans, academic libraries received 1.2 million documents from commercial services in FY 2006.
  • During a typical week in the fall of 2006, of the 3,600 academic libraries in the United States, 31 were open 24 hours per day, 7 days per week (table 2).
  • During a typical week in the fall of 2006, approximately 1.1 million academic library reference transactions were conducted, including computer searches (table 3).


  • At the end of FY 2006, there were 221 academic libraries that held 1 million or more books, serial backfiles, and other paper materials, including government documents (table 4).
  • The nation's 3,600 academic libraries held 1.0 billion books; serial backfiles; and other paper materials, including government documents at the end of FY 2006 (table 5).
  • In FY 2006, academic libraries added 22.2 million books, serial backfiles, and other paper materials, including government documents (table 6).


  • Academic libraries report 93,600 full-time equivalent (FTE) staff working in academic libraries during the fall of 2006 (table 7).
  • Academic libraries reported 26,500 FTE librarians in during the fall of 2006 (table 7). Librarians accounted for 28 percent of the total number of FTE staff working in academic libraries during the fall of 2006.


  • Academic libraries' expenditures totaled $6.2 billion during FY 2006 (table 8).
  • During FY 2006, academic libraries spent $3.1 billion on salaries and wages, representing 50 percent of total library expenditures (table 9).
  • Academic libraries spent $2.4 billion on information resources during FY 2006 (table 9).
  • Academic libraries spent $94 million for electronic books, serials backfiles, and other materials in FY 2006 (table 10). Expenditures for electronic current serial subscriptions were $692 million.
  • During FY 2006, academic libraries spent $106.3 million for bibliographic utilities, networks, and consortia (table 11).

Nature's Article on the Public Library of Science: A "Hatchet-Job"?

On July 2nd, Nature published "PLoS Stays Afloat with Bulk Publishing," which asserts in its first sentence that PLoS is "relying on bulk, cheap publishing of lower quality papers to subsidize its handful of high-quality flagship journals."

Needless to say, there was swift reaction to the article. Bora Zivkovic, PLoS ONE Online Community Manager, called it a "hatchet-job article" and gathered comments about the article from the blogosphere in his "On the Nature of PLoS. . . ." posting. At the article itself (which is restricted access), readers, PLoS editors, and Nature staff have made a number of comments.

The article makes several main points: (1) 2007 expenditures of $6.68 million were significantly greater than the $2.86 million revenue for that year; (2) PLoS has "four lower-cost journals that are run by volunteer academic editorial teams rather than in-house staff" with author fees ($2,100) nearly as high as for PLoS Biology and PLoS Medicine ($2,750); (3) half of PLoS' revenue in 2007 is estimated to have come from PLoS One, which the article says has "a system of 'light' peer-review" because "referees only check for serious methodological flaws, and not the importance of the result"; (4) PLoS One publishes a relatively high volume of papers (1,230 articles in 2007), and it has a relatively low author fee ($1,250; the current fee is $1300); and (5) PLoS has been sustained by $17.3 million in grants since 2002. The article does include several quotes from Peter Jerram, Chief Executive Officer of PLoS, including one in which he says that it is "is on track to be self-sustaining within two years."

In toto, the Nature article seems to suggest that PLoS has intentionally developed an open access journal publishing system that subsidizes a few selective high-quality journals by publishing many more papers in low-quality journals and that relies so heavily on grants it is unclear whether it will collapse without them. Since it contributes so much to the bottom line and publishes so many papers, PLoS One is the poster child for this strategy.

PLoS describes the PLoS One editorial procedures in PLoS ONE Guidelines for Authors. It notes that:

The peer review of each article concentrates on objective and technical concerns to determine whether the research has been sufficiently well conceived, well executed, and well described to justify inclusion in the scientific record. Then, after publication, all papers are opened up for interactive discussions and assessment in which the whole scientific community can be involved.

Unlike many journals which attempt to use the peer review process to determine whether or not an article reaches the level of 'importance' required by a given journal, PLoS ONE uses peer review to determine whether a paper is technically sound and worthy of inclusion in the published scientific record. Once the work is published in PLoS ONE, the broader community is then able to discuss and evaluate the significance of the article.

What the Nature article misses is that the scholarly evaluation of PLoS ONE articles does not end with the initial screening review for compliance with the stated Criteria for Publication. Rather, it begins there. PLoS ONE is using a radically different model of peer review than traditional journals. Whether it is a success or failure is not primarily determined by how many articles it publishes, but by the effectiveness of its post-publication review system in assessing the value of those papers.

If PLoS can reduce costs in what the article terms its "second-tier community journals" by using larger academic editorial staffs, there does not appear to be anything intrinsically wrong with that. To the contrary. The issue is not the editorial strategy, rather it's whether the author fees are unjustifiably high in relation to journal costs and whether the excess profit is being siphoned off to support other publications. Although comparative author fee data is given in the article, there is not enough economic evidence presented in the article to make any informed judgment on the matter.

Regarding grant support, I presume that Jerram understands the issue better than outsiders, and, if he believes that PLos can become self-sustaining in a few years, then there is no reason to doubt it, barring unforeseen circumstances.

Elsevier Says Its 2009 Journal Price Increases Average Six Percent or Less

Elsevier has made public a letter to librarians stating that it is targeting "a global average list price increase of not more than six percent" for its journals in 2009. It notes that "the 2008 average list price increase across all STM publishers was 8.70% in Europe and 10.10% in the U.S."

Elsevier is taking author publication fees into account for pricing a subset of its journals: "For individual journals, we are realigning prices to reflect a number of factors, including differences in the number of articles made available, quality, and usage, as well as new factors such as Sponsored Articles." (The Sponsored Articles program allows authors publishing articles in over 40 journals to pay a $3,000 fee to make them open access.)

The letter also states that there were over 386 million articles downloaded from ScienceDirect in 2007, with over 460 million downloaded articles being anticipated in 2008.

Frequently Asked Questions about the DCC Curation Lifecycle Model

The Digital Curation Centre has released Frequently Asked Questions about the DCC Curation Lifecycle Model.

Here's an excerpt:

The DCC Curation Lifecycle Model provides a graphical, high level overview of the stages required for successful curation and preservation of data from initial conceptualisation through the iterative curation cycle. The model can be used to plan activities within a specific research project, organisation, or consortium to ensure all necessary stages are undertaken, each in the correct sequence. It is important to note that the description, preservation planning, community watch, and curate and preserve elements of the model should be considered at all stages of activity.

Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video Released

American University's Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property has released the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video.

Here's an excerpt from the "Introduction."

This is a guide to current acceptable practices, drawing on the actual activities of creators, as discussed among other places in the study Recut, Reframe, Recycle: Quoting Copyrighted Material in User-Generated Video. . . and backed by the judgment of a national panel of experts. It also draws, by way of analogy, upon the professional judgment and experience of documentary filmmakers, whose own code of best practices has been recognized throughout the film and television businesses. . .

Research Study: How Is Web 2.0 Viewed by Academics?

The Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery's Pre-Raphaelite digitization project has released a study (Pre-Raphaelite Resource Project: Audience Research Report) about the perceptions of academics of the usefulness of Web 2.0 capabilities.

Here's an excerpt from the "Executive Summary":

Our research indicated that there is some readiness among the education community for Web 2.0 technologies but only in the context of academia as a status-conscious, competitive environment. Whilst there are clear benefits to be achieved from providing teachers and students with the opportunity to share ideas in the context of stimulus artefacts, many hold reservations about 'giving away' their intellectual property. Providing different levels of publishing privileges will help cater for the varying acceptance within the audience base for sharing their ideas publicly.

Social networking features are perceived by both HE students and lecturers as primarily for pleasure rather than for work so must be used sparingly in a resource of this nature. For younger students, however, the boundaries between work and life are increasingly blurred and the ability to contact experts and to personalise or control the space would be welcomed.

Care must be taken with positioning for the resource to be truly useful as a research tool; students and lecturers need to know that it has been created for them and has scholarly merit. Their main concern is to access reliable, relevant content and information, but the ability to form connections between these resources is one way of adding value to the collection.

Text Analysis: TAPoR Version 1.1 Released

The TAPoR (Text Analysis Portal for Research) text analysis tool has been upgraded to version 1.1.

Here's a description of TAPoR from the project's home page:

TAPoR will build a unique human and computing infrastructure for text analysis across the country by establishing six regional centers to form one national text analysis research portal. This portal will be a gateway to tools for sophisticated analysis and retrieval, along with representative texts for experimentation. The local centers will include text research laboratories with best-of-breed software and full-text servers that are coordinated into a vertical portal for the study of electronic texts. Each center will be integrated into its local research culture and, thus, some variation will exist from center to center.

SPARC Europe and DRIVER to Collaborate on Promoting Repositories

SPARC Europe and DRIVER have signed a Memorandum of Agreement to collaborate on promoting digital repositories in Europe.

Here's an excerpt from the press release:

SPARC Europe and DRIVER today confirmed a need for cooperation in order to progress and enhance the provision, visibility and application of European research outputs through digital repositories, in systems providing access to texts, data or other types of content. DRIVER is a joint initiative of European stakeholders, co-financed by the European Commission, setting up a technical infrastructure for digital repositories and facilitating the building of an umbrella organisation for digital repositories. DRIVER relies on research libraries for the sustainable operation of repositories and provision of high quality content through digital repositories. SPARC Europe and DRIVER share the vision that research institutions should contribute actively and cooperatively to a common, pan-European data and service infrastructure based on digital repositories. . . .

Collaboration between SPARC Europe and DRIVER is framed by their joint support for an Open Access model for repositories in research institutions. They will present a common lobby at a national and international level to leverage change through the scholarly community within respective institutions and countries. Their reciprocal support will ensure wider access to standards for interoperability between repositories, and the adoption of emerging technical standards to facilitate open archiving. This agreement demonstrates their joint commitment to promote a European network of repositories offering access to research outputs across institutional and national boundaries.

David Prosser, Director of SPARC Europe, said "Europe is well placed to take a leading role internationally in the development of institutional repositories. A combination of institutional interest, progressive polices from funding bodies, and strong support from the European Commission creates the perfect conditions to foster an open research environment. DRIVER is a key component in underpinning the European repository infrastructure and we are very pleased to cement our already close relationship by signing this agreement."

More Coverage of the 2008 Association of American University Presses Annual Meeting: Plus Ça Change . . .

Inside Higher Ed has published "Digital Daze," in which Scott McLemee reports on the 2008 Association of American University Presses Annual Meeting.

Sue Havlish's (Vanderbilt University Press) comment on University Publishing In A Digital Age seemed to sum up the tone of the meeting regarding new publishing models:

The report's proposal of a comprehensive new publishing platform "is the 800 pound gorilla in the room," she said. "Nobody wants to look at the gorilla because we’re all scared of it. Some librarians think that putting a text in a repository is 'publishing' it. There’s a fear of our role as publishers being subsumed by the libraries. But I still want—and I think most people still want—a book that been edited, that’s been shaped into something and marketed to me by a publisher that I’ve heard of already."

Life Cycle Information for E-Literature: LIFE2 Conference Presentations

Presentations from the LIFE2 Conference are now available.

LIFE2 is the second phase of the LIFE project, which the below excerpt from the project's home page explains:

LIFE (Life Cycle Information for E-Literature) is a project looking at the life cycle of the collection and preservation of digital material. The project is a collaboration between University College London (UCL) Library Services and the British Library and funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC).

OAK Law Project Publishes Understanding Open Access in the Academic Environment: A Guide for Authors

The Open Access to Knowledge Law Project has published Understanding Open Access in the Academic Environment: A Guide for Authors.

Here's an excerpt:

This guide aims to provide practical guidance for academic authors interested in making their work more openly accessible to readers and other researchers.

The guide explains, in detail, the principles and features of the open access movement and outlines the benefits of open access, particularly those relating to dissemination, citation impact and academic reputation. It examines institutional repositories and open access journals as tools for implementing open access, and explains how they operate and how they can be best utilised by academic authors. The guide further considers how moves by funding bodies and academic institutions to mandate the deposit of research output into institutional repositories affects authors in today's publishing environment.

The underlying law of copyright is also explained, with a practical emphasis on how authors can best deal with their legal rights to enable open access to their academic work. The guide outlines authors' options for providing open access to their work, including the use of copyright licences and open content models such as Creative Commons licences. A Copyright Toolkit is provided to further assist authors in managing their copyright.

Importantly, the guide addresses how open access goals can affect an author's relationship with their commercial publisher. It provides guidance on how to negotiate a proper allocation of copyright interests between an author and publisher in order to allow an author to deposit their work into an institutional repository and reuse their work. The guide addresses both legal and non-legal issues related to maintaining a positive relationship with publishers while still ensuring that open access can be obtained.

Text of Georgia State University Filing in E-Reserves Copyright Case

Georgia State University's filing in copyright infringement suit the e-reserves copyright infringement suit brought against key GSU officials by three publishers is now available. It presents eighteen defenses, including sovereign immunity and fair use.

Read more about it at "Georgia State University Strongly Answers Publishers’ E-Reserve Lawsuit."