This report on Library Journal’s Periodicals Price Survey 2012 makes for pretty sobering reading. Caught in a vice between dramatically lowered budget expectation and still increasing journal prices, libraries are running out of strategies to cope with the situation. Noting “that state budget cuts in 2012 will hit education, health care, and other services harder this year than in any year since 2008” the article admits that this may be the bottom “after a four-year downward spiral.” But is it a bottom academic libraries can afford? Especially when coupled with steadily increasing prices. The survey article compares data from five major publishers with last year’s data and notes that “online titles increased in price by 4.5 percent, slightly lower than that for print titles.” The article goes on to discuss coping strategies like the “Big Deal” and notes that while “some libraries have dropped or altered select journal packages… publishers overall reported they are still seeing increases in their e-journal package business.” The authors Stephen Bosch and Kittie Henderson also point to concerns about the future of the subscription model in discussions that “have surfaced on the LibLicense-L discussion forum, in Against the Grain, and on The Scholarly Kitchen blog.” They also note the continuing transition from print with 80% of the libraries surveyed saying that they are dropping print subscriptions. In addition, librarians see open access journals a as viable option in helping meet budget goals. Pricing models, usage statistics, and the growing importance of social media and mobile devices also receive some attention. And in discussing the future Bosch and Henderson have some advice saying that “along with cost inflation and revenue stagnation, changes in technology, user expectation, and the library environment require librarians to be both vigilant and agile. The same applies to publishers and vendors.
In addition to the eight tables of pricing and cost figures from the LJ Periodicals Price Survey, data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the Association for Research Libraries, the Study of Open Access Publishing, and the 2012 EBSCO Library Collections and Budgeting Trends Survey are also cited in this report.
All in all this is a thorough overview of LJ’s findings with supporting statistics from a variety of sources. Anyone interested in the state of journal publishing will find it well worth the read.