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Digital Ecology

    I was pleased see the posting of the new LOCKSS initiative as
excerpted from the _Chronicle of Higher Education_. This prompted to
search my archives for a posting I made in October 1998 that is similar.
Now as then, I appreciate any thoughts about the model.

/Gerry McK

                        _Digital Ecology_

   Among the many themes in the responses to my recent posting on
_E-Journals in the Era of Print Cancellations_ were concerns about
long-term Archival access and unreliable network access to E-Publications.

   In thinking about these concerns as well as others     

BTW: These, and other Pro and Con views on E-Journals have been outlined
at the following Web page:



it has occurred to me that we need also to consider the nature
and configuration of hardware and systems infrastructure in light of
current organizational and professional attitudes about electronic
publications, the interest (and need?) for local control, and the
inertia of established professional traditions. One of the possible
to address these interests would be to view the digital environment and
digital resources from an ecological point of view.

     In one possible alternative, one could envision an archival and 
model that mirrors the current print-based systems of local, regional and
national collections. Instead of a local library depending on a publisher
or service bureau to maintain its electronic collection, the local library
could in turn do so. In this model the local library would gradually replace

With appropriate and necessary software and staff, it would 'acquire',
'catalog' and provide 'access' to institutionally purchased materials. [As
many know, many vendors offer local libraries the option of of obtaining
all purchased files for local loading should a library decide to cancel an
Internet subscription to the service.]

     Such a local collection could be electronically linked to others
within a state or region (e.g., Big 12 +, CIC, etc.) such that each member
participates more dynamically in true cooperative collective development.
programs that could be modified to satisfy local desires].

Research Libraries (CRL) as well as national libraries (e.g., NAL, NLM,
LoC) would have the responsibilities of 'acquiring' and 'maintaining' and
providing 'access' to materials of less local or regional interest.

     Collectively, the local, state, regional, and national collections
would constitute the Digital Universe of E-Journals (and other electronic
'publications') to serve each level of need. In my mind this model would
satisfy a very strong view of local control and assure local access [I
also believe that such a model would be more acceptable to libraries and
librarians; the _local_ OPAC is an example. We cooperate and collaborate,
but we concurrently maintain _local_ online catalogs [There are _of
course_ exceptions]. Another benefit to this model is that it could serve
as the infrastructure to enable colleges, universities, and research
institutions to reclaim and retain more direct control over their _local_
intellectual property.

    As Always, Any and All Comments, Questions, Citations, Critiques,
Queries and/or Contributions would be Most Welcome.


/Gerry McKiernan
Theoretical Librarian and
Curator, CyberStacks(sm)
Iowa State University
Ames IA 50011


        "The Best Way to Predict the Future is To Invent It!"
                                Alan Kay