I know you know me. We have one or more social media relationships! I have even written about you before on this very blog, so you should have known that you are On Notice.
JSTOR, you have many lovely qualities. Many! For example, when you planned to roll out a new search, you updated your opening page with lots of friendly, "Would you like to try our beta search" messages.
But you know that I and my library brethren do not look kindly upon shenanigans designed to separate our researchers from their dollars. You know that. And yet...
A student e-mailed today asking how she could get a specific article she could print. Hmmm....to print? So, looked up the citation she mentioned, and look what I found!
Really JSTOR? Ten dollars? I'd like to inquire about what methodology you employed to come up with that figure. Ten dollars--what does that represent, and how much of that would go to author Cyril Barrett, or perhaps his estate, since, as an obituary reads:
"Cyril Barrett represented a form of intellectual and religious
integration that is increasingly rare. He was a genuine
polymath for whom everything provided a starting point for
inquiry and reflection. Beyond the loss of a particularly gifted
individual, his death represents a further disconnection of
philosophy from the wider world of humane learning and
religious journeying. We may never see his like again."
I understand that hosting documents online is not without cost. However, the people likely to be using JSTOR are often already paying tuition for library services, including InterLibrary Loan, or as we say here at my institution, InterLibrary Services.
How dare you try to weasel any money out of the pockets of researchers? You can get back in my good graces if you, with all haste, simply add a link along the lines of:
I expect more from you, JSTOR. I really do. Hope to hear from you soon.
Update: I posted this to Facebook, and this is what JSTOR wrote back:
Hi, Rebecca. Fees are set by the publishers and we take a service charge to cover the transaction fees and other costs for the service. You can read a little more about this at http://about.jstor.org/10things. I'll pass on your suggestion to our product management team.
That's a slightly underwhelming reply given the lively spirit of my post. But I'll roll with it for now.
Let's read it together, shall we?
The first part that catches my eye is:
"Fees are charged to cover our costs.
JSTOR digitizes millions of pages of scholarly content each year, provides reliable 24/7 access to people in 160+ countries, invests in new technologies to support the use of this content, provides outreach and support for our constituents, pays license fees to content owners, and ensures the preservation of the content over time. We do this with funds provided by thousands of libraries and institutions, all of whom are our partners in disseminating access around the globe."
Well, duh. That's why I'm aggravated--my library is one of those libraries. And for packages we don't subscribe to, we tell our patrons to request items they need using InterLibrary Services. You could help us do that buy adding a Link Resolver (hook to holdings) that will ultimately get researchers to their institution's InterLibrary Services Request. (Which many libraries have put online! Remember when we had to hand write every single request on carbon copy paper? Good times!)
Ok, let's keep reading.
Oh, here it is! #9.
"JSTOR steadily has made progress expanding access options for individuals.
JSTOR was created as a resource for the academic community, but as digital technology has become more ubiquitous in society, there is increased awareness of and interest in this content from the general public. As early as 1999 we established a program through which more than 110 publishers now provide access to the complete contents of their 350 journals on JSTOR directly to individuals, some as a benefit of society membership and some for a fee.
In 2006, we made arrangements for Google to index the full-text content in JSTOR. This facilitated access for students and faculty using Google for search but also introduced JSTOR to millions of people around the world. The relationships we had established with publishers, libraries and researchers in JSTOR’s first phase did not take into account this new worldwide demand from individuals not affiliated with institutions. We have therefore taken steps, working with publishers that own the content, to meet this new demand.
We established a publisher sales service that enables publishers, at their discretion, to make individual articles available for sale through JSTOR; approximately 850 journals are now part of that program. The price for purchasing individual articles is set by each publisher and includes a flat fee to cover JSTOR’s costs for providing the service.
More recently, in March 2012, we launched Register & Read, an experimental program to offer free, read-online limited use access to anyone who registers for a MyJSTOR account. The program was greatly expanded in late 2012 and currently makes more than 1,200 journals available for online reading with a free account. We will continue to work with the publishers who own this content to offer additional options in the future."
Hmm. This is interesting. Let's focus on this segment for now:
"The relationships we had established with publishers, libraries and researchers in JSTOR’s first phase did not take into account this new worldwide demand from individuals not affiliated with institutions. We have therefore taken steps, working with publishers that own the content, to meet this new demand.
We established a publisher sales service that enables publishers, at their discretion, to make individual articles available for sale through JSTOR; approximately 850 journals are now part of that program. The price for purchasing individual articles is set by each publisher and includes a flat fee to cover JSTOR’s costs for providing the service."
Kinda enjoying the fingerpointing at Google "halp! We got super popular". That was 2006 though...
Hmm...how could one manage the demand while respecting the copyright held by the publishers, what to do, what to do.
Hey, I know! Say it with me now: InterLibrary Loan!
Dang it, JSTOR. I understand you are trying to accommodate the interest of the world wide searching public by offering pay by the article access to people who are not affiliated with a library that offers InterLibrary Loan. But that's not my issue right now. My issue is that you have many, many users who in fact ARE affliated with an institution that does provide InterLibrary Loan and you'd really be doing me a solid if you could help me get that message across. I know you can do it and I want you to.
Library mafia, if you back me up on this, retweet, post, etc. Badger if you must.
Fun fact: Back in the day when I had the privilege of teaching Library Skills 10 at the University of Missouri-Columbia, a one credit class, a student answer I will always remember to the question, "How could you get materials from another library?" wrote "InterLibrarian Loan." I kinda liked the idea that one could request a librarian from another library to come to yours.
Meanwhile, a big shout out to all the fantastic people who work in Circulation, Access, InterLibrary Services...you make magic happen!