Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Zero-Sum Game or Net Loss?

I'm pondering the following email that I just received from the Cataloging Distribution Service at the Library of Congress:

Beginning January 1, 2008, the Cataloging Distribution Service of the Library of Congress will reduce prices on all MARC Distribution Services (MDS) and for new subscriptions or renewals to Cataloger's Desktop and Classification Web ordered after January 1, 2008. Prices remain the same for all other products for 2008. After its annual review of product prices, CDS was able to reduce product prices because of operational cost savings. These cost savings were realized in part because of lower staffing levels during the previous year.

The email is not clear whether the cost savings are from lower staffing levels just within CDS, or from lower staffing levels at LOC overall. When we're suffering the effects of an erosion of descriptive cataloging services and authority control from LOC, saving money on ClassWeb or the Cataloger's Desktop still seems like a net loss to me.

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