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Re : E-journals in the era of print cancellations

As someone who has been actively involved in library policy discussions
and processes related to cancelling print journals in favour of
electronic, I offer the following observations about academic and library
staff support for this activity :

Those academic staff at La Trobe where I work who have been most in favour
of substituting electronic for print journals are usually well-supported
by a departmental computer officer and a very up- to- the-minute
departmental computer network. These features may be able to be taken for
granted in most United States universities but in Australia there can be
quite disparate computer resources and technical support staffing across
the different Schools/departments even within the same university as well
as between universities.
The greatest point of contention for library staff has been the issue of
exact equivalence between the print and electronic journals. It cannot be
assumed but must be proven each time that specific electronic journals
contain the same content as their print originals. Often what are regarded
as "lesser" features are left out of electronic journals with print
originals, e.g. letters to the editor, conference and other notices and
also advertising.What value should be placed on these "lesser" features ?

Another contentious issue identified by some of our library staff is the
printing out of images. In many electronic journals only a thumbnail image
will fit into the correct place where it occurs in the text; if a student
wants a full size image, say in a cinema studies or art history or health
sciences journal, then she may have to accept that it will be printed out
of its direct context.

At this stage of the evolution of electronic journals I doubt that there
is as yet any concensus among either academic staff or library staff on
when it is appropriate to substitute electronic versions for a journal for
print originals. Archiving is only one factor in the decision making

In the Australian context cost effectiveness is a major consideration.  
Many Australian universities have multiple, dependent and widely dispersed
campuses and smaller, more poorly resourced libraries at these campuses.
Electronic journals in this context seem to be more cost effective than
duplicated print subscriptions, provided the licence provisions are
sufficiently generous.

These are my personal comments only. I am not speaking on behalf of my

Christine Maher
Christine Maher                         Email : c.maher@latrobe.edu.au 

Electronic Information Services Librarian        PH. 61 3 9479 1922   
La Trobe University Library                      FAX 61 3 9471 0993
Victoria. Australia. 3083