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re: Perpetual access

Looking at the responses to this question, perpetual access might be less
of an issue in the cases where the library physically has the data at
their site (or designated location). In the case of CD-ROMs or locally
loading data retention of the data after discontinuing the subscription
may be negotiated. For these instances the library already has the
resources to continue to make the information available to the user. 

However, having access to the data may not be enough. If the data is
provided in proprietary format that requires vendor supplied software
support issues could arise. If the library is no longer paying a license
fee, they are presumably no longer getting support for this software. So
what happens if there are problems with the software? Perhaps it was
written on a now obsolete version of an operating system. 

I think a larger problem will be for data licensed by libraries that is
load and maintained by the vendor rather than at the library site. For
many of us, this is how we plan to access this data. If my library
discontinues the license how will I get the archival access? I believe
that OCLC has provided for perpetual access through their site. If I
remember correctly there is a access fee to get to the data, which is not
unreasonable since you will be using their system resources. But there is
still a cost associated with accessing the information.

What if the vendors response is that they will give you the files of the
material that you subscribed to? If you have been relying on the vendor to
host the material, can your library mount the information locally? Is the
information is standard format (e.g. smgl or other recognized format)? Do
you have the local resources to not only load the data but also make it
available? Will it be available at any time or just on demand? What about
refreshing the format of the data it becomes obsolete Obsolete formats
have been a problem in the past. Witness some of the microform reader
equipment in libraries that could qualify for the Smithsonian. 

I think all of us recognize that there are costs associated with
maintaining archival access to paper versions of material. Space,
lighting, binding, and staff costs must be factored in. Many libraries are
facing space crises. If there are modest costs associated with perpetual
access to electronic formats, it maybe less than some current costs of
perpetual access to paper information. 

Sara L. Randall, Executive Director
Penn. Academic Library Connection Initiative
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Lehigh University
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