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February 8, 2011
Damned if you do, damned if you don't: Increasing very expensive online legal search costs in the Shed West (Print) Era
In the context of new Title 51 of the US Code, plus the revision of USC Title 41 along with new USC Titles 52-55 being in the works, Betsy McKenzie writes
the unintended consequence of adding new titles to the Code is that many libraries will be making deaccession decisions based on this new development. The cost will not be trivial. Libraries will be expected not only to purchase new volumes with the additional titles, but every re-organized title will require new volumes to be purchased as well. I don't know how many libraries still retain print copies of the annotated U.S. Code, much less how many still have it in both U.S. Code Annotated and U.S. Code Service. But of those libraries, many will agonize (as will mine) over whether they will retain a copy of both services, or even one, in print, in the face of this new expense.
With no free or low cost annotated code available, one's cost-savings choices appear to be keeping USCA or USCS in print or substituting online access by way of Westlaw or Lexis for them. But, not really. Betsy hits the nail on the head in a comment to her post, Title 51 US Code and beyond: Unintended Consequences:
The vendors are making up anything we save in print by raising subscription prices for electronic versions.