In case you haven’t heard there is a bit of struggle going on between Nature (NPG) and the UC Libraries. It doesn’t matter if it is a big library system or a small one it is the same story across the library world, money. Specifically the lack of money.
I have refrained from commenting on this story because I really don’t know the specifics, there are others more knowledgeable who are commenting already. Another reason I haven’t commented is because I believe in general the way business is conducted between libraries and online resources companies is unsustainable. I am not saying that every agreement, every resource, every large or small vendor and library is broken. There are instances where vendors and libraries have working arrangements that are mutually agreeable and beneficial. However, stories like this are becoming more common in print, online, and in person. I worry these stories are our canary in the tunnel.
A lot has been written on the NPG and UC issue. If you are interested in reading about it, John Dupuis has a great post, Librarians vs. Nature, where he links to the original story in The Chronicle and posts links to Nature’s and UC’s responses as well as commentary and recent posts.
John also provides his opinions on the situation and one specific statement really resonated with me. It was John’s statement, “The reason that I’m rooting for California is that it will make it much less likely that NPG will try the same trick on the rest of us. And that’s a good thing.” His statement reminded me a lot of the tricks car salesmen use to try to get you to buy something like an extended warranty at an outrageous mark up just to squeeze in more profit for the dealership. Perhaps I thought of this because we just bought a car about a month ago and I still carry the battle scars. But when librarians think and believe that a company or an entire industry is trying to play tricks on them, is there really any trust or opportunity to move forward?