Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence


Supplementary evidence from the Cambridge University Library

1.   What proportion of the publishers from whom you purchase digital content would refuse you access to the back issues you had previously subscribed to if you cancelled your digital subscription? Which publishers have this policy? (Q231)

  Some major publishers (eg Nature Publishing Group and Springer Verlag) do not seem to make any provision that we can identify.

  The biological societies who publish journals via HighWire Press, which make up a substantial part of the more important biological journal literature, do not include access to subscribed material after cancellation, but most of them make all their material open access after a period of 6 or 12 months.

  Many of the larger suppliers make some provision for continuing access to subscribed material after cancellation, either from the publisher's own server, or via a third party's server, or by providing files direct to the University for us to store, though in a number of cases an additional fee is payable.

  Those who do make some provision for archival access include:

    American Chemical Society

    American Institute of Physics


    Elsevier (position on fee unclear)

    Institute of Physics (fee)

    Institution of Electrical and Electronics Engineers



    Taylor and Francis

    Wiley (fee)

2.   What proportion of your library's costs are spent on overheads?

  The use of the term "overheads" to mean everything other than books, journals and other library materials [definition confirmed by the Secretariat] is a misleading one. Whilst the provision of materials for readers' use is the single most important role of a university library, the library also provides many other services that cannot simply be described as overheads. Libraries have been in the forefront of the exploitation of technology for the last twenty years and this has enabled them to increase their efficiency enormously, but such services are generally expensive because they are by their very nature labour intensive, as many involve direct contact with users. They include:

    —  the work essential to selecting, acquiring, cataloguing, negotiating licences and making available to readers the books, journals and electronic resources they need;

    —  assistance to users of the collections, in the form of direct help across the desk, web-based support, e-mail help-desks, and training sessions for users at all levels from undergraduate to research professor;

    —  the provision of borrowing, photocopying and other imaging services, document delivery between libraries, etc; and

    —  management of the collections—the provision of adequate storage facilities, preservation and repair; and growing use of digital storage; without these the materials will not be available for future generations.

  For Cambridge University Library the proportions are:


Other (stationery, telephones etc):

  It should be noted that the impact at Cambridge of legal deposit means that much material is acquired without payment to the publisher but at considerable cost in terms of processing. This increases the proportion of the budget spent on staff and reduces that spent on materials.

3.   Does your university have an institutional repository in which academics can archive their research papers?/Does it have any plans to establish one? Does it have a view on such repositories?

  Cambridge University Library has established an institutional repository, in collaboration with MIT, through the Cambridge-MIT Institute ( This repository uses "DSpace", an open-source digital-repository system. It will provide a home for scholarly communications (articles and pre-prints), theses, and technical reports, as well as teaching programmes, data sets and databases. It also has the ability to capture, index, store, disseminate and preserve digital materials created in any part of the University, whether for research, teaching or the support of lifelong learning, such as digitised images of materials from the University's collections of manuscripts, books, and museum objects.

  The University takes the view that institutional repositories can play a vital part in disseminating and preserving scientific research. Each such repository provides the research community with an effective means of self-archiving both research papers and the associated raw scientific data; institutional ownership provides assurances that the repository's contents will be preserved and openly accessible in the long term; and the use of agreed international standards of inter-operability ensures that the content of multiple repositories can be cross-searched to provide optimal retrieval of relevant material. For such repositories to operate effectively, it is important that the academics creating the material in the first place do not sign over the copyright on an exclusive basis to one publisher.

  The University Library is a member of the SHERPA consortium, which aims to initiate the development of openly accessible institutional digital repositories of research output in a number of research universities, and through the CMI-funded project LEADIRS, it is assisting other institutions in the development of individual institutional level planning for the implementation of sustainable institutional repositories.


  I am grateful for the opportunity to make a final closing statement but do not think that there is anything I would wish to say beyond what was in our initial submission and what was said in answer to the oral questions on 21 April.

  However, the urgency of moving ahead in trying to resolve some of the issues that the Committee have been grappling with is underlined by information that I have received in the last few days from one university library that Nature has announced a 70% increase in its prices for electronic access to the Nature bundle of journals, when that library's subscriptions come up for renewal next month!

May 2004

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