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Digital Ecology

                        _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 model 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
access 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 its print-based stacks with stacks of servers [A
CyberStacks(sm) [{:->].  With appropriate and necessary software and
staff, it would 'acquire', 'catalog' and provide 'access' to
instititutionally purhased materials. [As many know, many vendors offer
local libraries the option of obtaining all purchased files for local
loading should a library decide to cancel an Internet subscription to the

     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.
[Here of course there are some very successful state and consortial
programs that could be modified to satisfy local desires].

     On a larger scale, such national repositories as the Center for
Research Libraries (CRL) as well as natioanl 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 elctronic
'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 enbable 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 
Curator, CyberStacks(sm)
Iowa State University 
Ames IA 50011



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