Posts Tagged ‘negotiations’

Heaven has its newest angel: Julia Claire Blixrud

November 2, 2014

In Memoriam

Julia Claire Blixrud 

1954 – 2014


The scholarly community has lost a great leader and friend. Julia Blixrud past away on Wednesday, morning October 29, 2014.

She was known to have a positive lasting effect on everyone she met. In the short time that I knew Julia, she had an enduring positive effect on me.

I first met Julia at the AAUP annual meeting luncheon. My very good friend Rush Miller introduced me to Julia. During the ninety-minute luncheon, we had the opportunity to discuss a variety of topics that affect every ARL’s business environment.   From the challenging library budgets to the effects of Open Access, this discussion forged a new relationship between us.

We exchanged business cards and promised to stay in touch, as she wanted to create a seminar for the new incoming ARL directors. Julia was very motivated to provide this new crop of library directors with tools, information and training to provide them with a foundation to ensure their success in their new role.

Over the next twelve months Julia and I engaged in several phone conversations that led to an awesome lunch meeting this past March at Ilili restaurant. During this lunch we got a chance to take a friendship to the next level. I learned more about her illustrious career and her deep love for her husband Keith, her family and her industry colleagues.

Our conversations continued over the next few months and then the bomb hit. I called Julia at her ARL office this summer to follow-up on our discussion and the attendant suggested that I could reach her on her cell phone. As always she answered the phone in her normal upbeat and positive way. She shared with me that she was undergoing some medical treatments as her cancer had resurfaced. I shared with Julia that my oldest sister has just undergone a bilateral mastectomy. She immediately offered her prayers and support. This was one of Julia’s many positive attributes. Julia was always there to be a supportive friend.

A couple of months later I checked in with Julia to see how she was doing and she left me with the impression that all was well. I mentioned to her that I was organizing a thought leader dinner for a client and wanted her to attend. She suggested that I forward the invitation to her and she would let me know if she or someone from ARL would attend.

Two weeks ago, I called Julia’s office in Washington, DC to follow-up on our last conversation about the invitation to the thought leader dinner. The receptionist politely suggested that I reach Julia on her cell phone. When I reached Julia, she immediately offered her apologies for not getting back to me. You see she was back in Kansas for her cancer treatment. I replied, “Julia no, you have my apology!” We chatted for a little bit and then I wished her well with her treatment. I got off the phone and thought, “Even as she is facing a reoccurrence of her cancer she it still thinking of others”!

This past Friday I called Rush Miller to catch up with him regarding his retirement and during our conversation he spoke about the number of ARL directors that are retiring this year. I mentioned my conversation with Julia about her goals for the new ARL librarians and then Rush hit me with the news that Julia had passed away Wednesday morning. Wow, what a punch to my gut! While I had only known Julia for 1-½ years she has made a significant impact on my life and me.

As the industry learns of Julia’s passing, we are going to learn so much more about the impact that she has made on the lives of her family, friends, co-workers and industry. As one of her newest friends I wanted to take a moment to share my thoughts about the great person that she was and the legacy she leaves for all of us to follow.

Julia, thank you for your friendship, your counsel and your contributions to the scholarly community!


Darrell W. Gunter

Her obituary can be found at this link and her services are being held today Sunday, November 2, 2014. Memorial contributions may be made in her name to Trinity Lutheran Church or Lawrence Memorial Hospital – Oncology Center and may be sent in care of the mortuary. Online remembrances can shared at


Will the traditional journal subscripton model make a comeback?

July 1, 2014

The other day my good friend Kent Anderson’s blog post on the Scholarly Kitchen “Hiding in Plain Sight — Is the Subscription Model the Optimal Business Model for the Digital Age?” is spot on as he sites several companies and industries that thrive successfully on the subscription model.  However the scholarly publishing industry has experienced significant growing pains and struggles going back to the eighties with the subscription model as the publishers increased their prices significantly due to changes in currencies, subscription cancellations, additional pages, etc.   I thought it would be useful to provide some further insights on this topic.

These developments prompted the library community to put in place their annual journal cancellation renewal program to balance the needs of their user community with their budget.  Prior to the launch of the digital initiatives like the one I launched for Elsevier, “ScienceDirect” in the Americas, librarians really did not have great usage stats to assist them in their annual review program.

 One of the key factors that I stressed to our customers was the significantly increased utility value they would receive with Elsevier’s subscription model for ScienceDirect.  In the print world they would have to buy multiple subscriptions of a popular journal.  In the digital world the limitations of print access are eliminated the utility value of a journal and or articles are greatly expanded.  Some time later we increased our digital offering with the introduction of the “Freedom” collection.  This allowed an institution to gain access to additional journals at a fraction of the cost.  The Freedom Collection the researcher to search across wider collections of journals/articles.  These plans allowed the librarian community to leverage their investment in scholarly journals and provide more content and value to their community.

 Consortia’s grew consistently over the ten-year period 1996 – 2006 and each participating institution was able to further leverage their access to additional scholarly content at cents on the dollar

Unfortunately, as the recessions (2001 and 2008) hit our economy, the budget pressures on the library were further exacerbated and the “Big Deal” became the “Big Villain”.  The Big Deal in my opinion was a very easy target as the librarians discounted the publisher’s arguments that it provided the consortium members access to a “huge” amount of content, some of which that was cancelled due to their previous budget constraints.

As the Counter statistics indicate, the utility value of the subscribed content has exploded over the last 10 – 15 years.  The library community has benefited from the “Big Deal”, in the face of their budget cuts however the serial crisis is still a serious problem for the entire scholarly publishing industry.  The scholarly publishing community (Publishers, academic institutions, researchers, etc., must come together to solve this puzzle.  I say puzzle as the pieces to solve the puzzle are there in front us, but the community must decide what pieces will comprise the new puzzle.

I would suggest that advertising will play a role in the new model to alleviate some of the financial burden and challenges facing the scholarly industry.  The role for advertising will need to be defined and will require experimentation.

Subscriptions are very good for the scholarly publishing industry but there must be a balance between cost and the utility value received by the academic community.  As I said the pieces to the puzzle are in front of us and collectively we must work together to put the new puzzle together.

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