With the cost of scholarly journals rising much faster than the rate of inflation and the number of such journals proliferating, university libraries around the nation are facing a "serials crisis"--they simply cannot afford to maintain past levels of journal subscriptions. Many libraries have been forced to cancel subscriptions several times. Libraries are increasingly borrowing journals from one another and purchasing single articles from commercial document suppliers in order to maintain access to the latest scholarly research for their users. In the Fall, 1995, edition of Information Issues, John Peters, Vice Chancellor of the University, and Paula Kaufman, Dean of the Libraries, talk about how the serials crisis affects all of us here at UTK.
The roots of the serials crisis go back more than 20 years. The publish or perish philosophy, the explosion in the number of academic subfields, the increasing domination of scholarly communication by commercial publishers, and the weakening of the dollar in relation to the currencies of Europe (where many such publishers make their home) are just some of the contributing factors. To learn more about the financial problems facing all university libraries, as well as some possible solutions, see the Mellon Report on University Libraries and Scholarly Communication, a study prepared for The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and published by the Association of Research Libraries. You may want to skip directly to Chapter Six: Book and Serial Pricing.
For additional information about the serials crisis and the future of scholarly publishing, we suggest the following resources (Note: the opinions expressed in these websites are those of their authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville Libraries).