Re: PostGutenberg Copyrights and Wrongs for Give-Away Research

From: Fytton Rowland <J.F.Rowland_at_LBORO.AC.UK>
Date: Wed, 27 Jun 2001 14:08:44 +0100

At 01:19 PM 6/26/01 -0400, Albert Henderson wrote:
>on 26 Jun 2001 Fytton Rowland <J.F.Rowland_at_LBORO.AC.UK> wrote:
>> More seriously, taking Henderson's point about "economic exchanges that
>> course through the research communication process", I suggest that
>> Elsevier, Springer, Taylor & Francis, etc., and also the American Chemical
>> Society and other large "not-for-profit" publishers, should each set up a
>> Foundation into which the put a large proportion of the profits from their
>> scholarly publishing activities. These Foundations would then support
>> research in a wide variety of academic disciplines, competed for in the
>> usual way by academics submitting grant proposals. This would bring the
>> companies concerned well-deserved "recognition", and would also return to
>> the academic community some of the hard cash taken out of it by exorbitant
>> journal prices.
> There is no need for a new financial hoard. Every major
> university already has accumulated profits and gifts that
> serve no educational purpose. THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE
> just published a lengthy description of Harvard's $19 billion,
> by Johanna Berkman (June 24 2001 p. 38-41). Read and weep.
> If Harvard's collection development had kept pace with the
> published output of science after 1940, its library would
> hold twice as many volumes as it does. Its endowment (shudder!)
> might possible have a few less $billion.
> Best wishes,
>Albert Henderson

It is clear that Albert Henderson cannot be shaken in his belief that
universities are immensely wealthy institutions that perversely refuse to
spend their money on adequate library resources. This picture is not
recognisable to us in the UK, nor, I suspect, to most academics in state
univesties in the USA. My own university is a reasonably well-regarded
medium-sized UK university. Its annual turnover (not profit, turnover!) is
around 120 million pounds; its budgeted surplus (required for fiscal
prudence by our University Council, in order to increase cash reserves,
following a period of building construction) is about 2 million pounds per
year. The cash reserves are about 20 million pounds (i.e. equivalent to
about two months' routine expenditures). All the rest of the university's
assets are real estate (its campus and the buidings on it) and the
buildings' contents, including of course the library's collection.

Harvard must be one of the wealthiest universities in the world -- hardly a
typical one, anyway. But remember what "endowment" means. These are funds
that are held as capital, and the university spends the interest on that
capital on its running expenses. At current interest rates that is still
probably 1 billion dollars a year or so, if the figure of 19 billion
dollars capital is correct. A lot of money; but they do have to pay their
faculty salaries, the running costs of all their buildings, scholarships
for students, and everything else needed to run one of the world's
highest-quality universities.

And however rich or poor you are, that is not a good reason for allowing
someone else to rip you off!

Fytton Rowland.

Fytton Rowland, M.A., Ph.D., F.I.Inf.Sc., Lecturer,
Deputy Director of Undergraduate Programmes and
Programme Tutor for Publishing with English,
Department of Information Science,
Loughborough University,
Loughborough, Leics LE11 3TU, UK.

Phone +44 (0) 1509 223039 Fax +44 (0) 1509 223053
Received on Wed Jan 03 2001 - 19:17:43 GMT

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