Reduced-Cost Journals Service
and Other Journal Programs

Summary Report, September 1995

A. Reduced-Cost Journals Service --- Science, Technology, Medicine

As with many state-run institutions of the former Communist bloc, libraries have faced great budget cuts during the past few years of economic and political transitions. While book donation programs have provided the libraries with much needed foreign language literature (in the broad sense), donation and exchange of journal subscriptions have not met the need for new, highly specialized serial titles in science, technology and medicine (STM). In 1992-93, with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Sabre created the Reduced-Cost Journals Service (Service) to bridge this difficult transition to a "pay-as-you-go" system, offering substantial discounts for new subscriptions.

The Service was tested in 1993 in the Czech Republic by the Prague Institute of Advanced Studies (PIAS) with a three-publisher, three-library pilot project. In 1994, an additional eight publishing houses joined the Service, and the Service was expanded from the Czech Republic to include Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia in a six-country program, with the number of publishers increased to 11. A description of the 1994/95 Service is appended. In Slovakia, the Service was presented at a national conference of librarians by the Slovak Academic Information Agency and in the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland, (and in Bulgaria and Croatia) the country coordinators circulated the offering among several hundred academic, educational and research institutions. Orders were collated in each country by the country coordinators, forwarded to Sabre, and transmitted to the UK-based subscription agent for processing.

1995 Subscription Orders

Notwithstanding the expected start-up difficulties, 1995 subscription orders were encouraging. According to B. H. Blackwell's, the subscription agent, as of June 21, 1995, the total number of paid subscriptions was 420. In aggregate, a total of 116, 601, or approximately $194,474.00 was expended by the participating libraries. Over the three-year subscription period, this amounts to a commitment of over $600,000 in library resources.

The distribution of subscriptions by country and subject category was as follows:

As can be seen from the above table and summary pie chart to the left, the majority of the subscriptions were medical titles. However, the percentages vary from country to country. For example, in under-served countries like Croatia and Slovakia, virtually all of the subscriptions were medical, while in Bulgaria, Hungary, and Poland, the subscriptions covered a much wider range of titles. We expect that as the Service continues, a broader range of titles will be ordered.

More detailed information on the paid orders is included in the table that follows:

Table 1: paid orders broken down by participating publishers. Springer-Verlag had the largest number of subscriptions (139), followed by Elsevier/Pergamon (86), John Wiley & Sons (60), Blackwell Scientific Publishers (56), Kluwer Academic (42), with smaller orders from Churchill Livingston (10), Butterworth Heinemann (5), VSP International Science Pubs. (2), and ISI Publications (1).

Additional information is available from Sabre, including paid orders, a list of customers, number of subscriptions, and value of orders (the cost of the subscriptions at the reduced rates plus B. H. Blackwell's subscription processing fee of 2.5% on the retail price).

Based on responses from the field, this project, although modest in scope, has been successful and bears repeating. The Reduced-Cost Journals Service has saved the cash-strapped libraries of Eastern Europe almost $200,000 in this year alone and has made advanced serial literature more readily available during a difficult transitional period. Many of the participating libraries have expressed an interest in new orders for 1996 subscriptions. Thus, an additional offering round has been proposed to the publishers, on the same terms and conditions as the 1994/95 offering: 50% discount on new subscriptions only, for a three-year period. A offering round for new 1996 subscriptions is underway in all six countries.

The list of participating publishers for new 1996 orders is expected to shift, with new publishers requesting to be included in the Service while a number of previously participating publishers deciding not to offer such substantial discounts beyond the original three-year period (1995/96/97).

B. Other Journal Initiatives --- Social Sciences

"Delayed Subscription Service"

In addition to the Reduced-Cost Journals Service, Sabre also manages a small-scale "Delayed Subscription Service" whereby journal publishers include Sabre on their list of bulk subscribers. The journals arrive at Sabre's Clinton Massachusetts warehouse; are sorted by country; and included in containerized shipment which are then distributed by partner organizations overseas. For Eastern Europe, participating journals include: Art Bulletin and Art Journal, Columbia Journalism Review, Constitution Magazine and Daedalus.

Gratis Subscriptions

After a three-year period of gratis subscriptions to 20 of its journals, UK-based Blackwell Publishers renewed the subscriptions through 1994 and increased the total number of journal titles to 36. Approximately 27 libraries in 11 countries continue to receive the journals.

Appendix: Reduced-Cost Journals Service Information 1994/95

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Document Last Updated: October 5, 1995

For comments, corrections or additions, please contact Rebecca Schneider, Reference Librarian


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