By Erin Gallagher
Tomorrow is officially the first day of summer, though for those of us in central Florida, that day came long, long before June 21st of this year. Here are examples of how people around the world will be celebrating the longest day of the year. How will you spend the solstice? Soaking up the sun? Catching up on some reading? Joining hands with someone dressed in an elk costume and chanting in a ring around Stonehenge? Whatever your plans may be, enjoy.
Patron/demand/usage-driven acquisition (PDA/DDA/UDA/Pick your acronym of choice) has been a hot topic for over a decade now, evolving from pilot program to proven method of collection development for academic libraries around the globe. Perhaps it was inevitable that this “golden model” would start to raise red flags among publishers who are experiencing low print sales and whose cushy profit predictions are no longer guaranteed. Listservs, blogs, and the scholarly news cycles have been angrily abuzz after press releases were issued from two major ebook aggregators (EBL and ebrary), stating that several major publishers would increase the pricing on their short-term loan (STL) models. An understandable backlash ensued, as many libraries have invested some, much, or all of their collection development budgets in some form of DDA.
The most eloquent and hotly-discussed response came in the form of a letter published in the Chronicle of Higher Education from the Boston Library Consortium. The BLC articulated the exasperation of the academic library community and called this move a form of “predatory pricing”. In other words, now that libraries have deposited most of their eggs in one basket, publishers can start pricing on a Faberge-egg level.
Earlier this week, the Chronicle published another piece on the STL price hikes, pointing out (accurately so) that these are yet more skirmishes in the ongoing battle between libraries and publishers. Regardless of which side of the fence you may fall, decisions on pricing, digital rights management, and licensing of e-content often seem to be made in vacuum, both on the library side and the publishing side. Publishers say, “We need to make money!” Libraries say, “We don’t have any money!” Vendors say, “Hey, don’t shoot the messenger!” Isn’t it time for someone to wave a white flag and say, “Let’s figure this out together”?