Costs of Doing Biznez (Academic)

Chris Brady chris_brady at
Fri Nov 3 13:27:06 MST 2000

This article in the NYTimes bemoans the increase in the prices of
scholarly journals, which have tripled over the past 14 years:
You don't have to read it to know that the cost of some journals has not
increased any more than the cost of living for that period.  I refer to
the journals on the HX shelves of your current periodicals, or journals
section in your local university or college library.  However, despite
the relatively low cost of socialist publications (under HX in the
Library of Congress designation) [N.B. $$$ in above NYTimes piece]
they are still culled from the stacks, often for ostensible "reasons"
that really have more to do with any other category of journal than the
HXers, i.e., relative cost. The irony, if it is indeed ironic, is that
often curious juxtapositions of expenditure coincide with the
austerities imposed by the market on library collections.

For example, the Knight Library at the University of Oregon in Eugene
(approx.) five years ago spent millions on renovations and the massive
expansion of its computerized catalogue and ciculation system.
Subsequently in early 1996, the Current Periodicals section declared to
the University's Departments that budget shortfalls imposed necessary
cuts to scholarly journal subscriptions.  Departments were given an
amount they had to cut.  The professor in charge of cutting journals for
the History Department had to deal with a reduction of 16.9 percent
($8,888).  He told me that several publications that might be of
interest to me were in jeopardy of cancellation: Cahiers du Communisme,
Socialist Register, SocialistReview, and Monthly Review.  At that time,
the HX periodicals received 18 publications (I'll send the list in a
separate post if you're interested, if not: Delete).

I waged a successful campaign to retain MR, and current copies still
come in regularly.  I will note that my adviser was an important factor
in my campaign, writing in support from Italy where he was on a
Fulbright.  I was working on my Master's thesis on Leo Huberman,
co-founder of MR.  I will also note that the History Guild of graduate
students stayed out of the fray entirely.  Peers perhaps, but certainly
not comrades.  Another failure occured further north up the Willamette
Valley at Oregon State University.

OSU's library in Corvallis also recently underwent a huge renovation and
expansion to the tune of millions of dollars.  In the process it changed
its name from the Kerr Library, after its original patrons, to the more
generic Valley Library.  The glittering new library with its rows of
computer terminals was chosen as Library of the Year by (if I recall
correctly) the Library Journal.  Around the time of its expansion, the
OSU library terminated its subscription to Monthly Review.

Around the time of the MR fight at the U of O, I complained to a
professor about what I wryly called "Sophisticated Accumulation"
as part of what the cuts were all about.  I drew his attention to a
couple of items in the student daily:
>Nothing better illustrates my point, as this dynamic affects us
>here locally, than the pages of our local campus paper [The
>Oregon Daily Emerald]. Last Thursday [Feb'96], a
>front page article bemoaned the fact that Periodicals must be cut by
>$500,000. Today, a front page article celebrated the *donation* of
>$500,000 to UO's Charles H. Lundquist College of Business. The money
>comes from the Woodard Family Foundation, a family infamous for its
>union-busting Valley River Inn, and is dedicated to "the rapidly
>expanding sports-marketing program."

We know what's important.
Rah-rah, siss-boom-bah!
And I mean: "bah!"
--Chris B

More information about the Marxism mailing list