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ACS Archiving policy

A message forwarded from the chminf-l listserve originally from the Univ
of Texas chemistry librarian, David Flaxbart, regarding changes in the
American Chemical Society's backfile licensing policy .

--Dennis Dillon
Asst. Dir. for Collections & Info Resources

--begin forwarded text--

The American Chemical Society recently announced the upcoming release of
its complete online journal Archives, which will contain all content of
all journals up to 1995.  However, the marketing strategy of the Archive
should be cause for some concern among libraries that currently subscribe
to ACS Web Editions for online access to post-1996 journal content.

It may not yet be widely known that ACS plans to "roll off" years from the
current web subscription into the backfile.  Starting next year, the Web
Editions subscription will only include current (2003) plus 4 previous
years (1999-2002).  Libraries that do not also buy the Archives
subscription will lose access to 1996-1998 content, and one more year
every year after that.  If a library later cancels the Archives
subscription, all access to that content will be lost.  Those
contemplating going web-only with ACS journals should be aware of these
"details," which so far are mentioned only in the Archives FAQ page

Under the pricing plan announced in January, institutions are being asked
to pay up to $4500, plus inflation, every year in perpetuity, for access
to the archive.  In the next decade alone, allowing for 5% annual
inflation, a large school will have to dedicate over $56,000 in NEW money
for access to content already purchased once (pre-1996 print) or twice
(1996-forward print plus web).  By moving previous years from the current
subscription plan into the backfile, ACS is reducing the value of their
established Web Editions plan, without a commensurate reduction in its
price, in order to persuade customers to pay for this information a third

In light of the Royal Society of Chemistry's recently announced free
backfiles, ACS' approach seems to work against the goal of wide access to
the chemical literature, particularly at smaller schools that would
otherwise benefit greatly from online backfiles.  This is not a good deal
for libraries, and ACS is not being up front with its implications.  ACS
has shown some flexibility in the past when the library community speaks
up; maybe they will listen to us again.

David Flaxbart
Chemistry Library
University of Texas at Austin