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Licensing terms encountered:

David Goodman makes the point that the library community has to make
choices when subscribing to new electronic journals which cost more.
Leaving aside the issue of whether they should cost more, which I have
already spoken about (I don't think they should cost more if they are done
right), there are fundamental differences in quality of the electronic
version of different journals which should enter into the decision.

I am writing an article for Against the Grain which deals with this issue.
In it I say the archival quality of the electronic version should be
weighed heavily when makiing an assessment of whether to subscribe to an
electronic journal.  Some journals will be able to be maintained in their
electronic form quite easily. Others only appear in formats such as PDF
which are not of archival quality and will become unusable faster than
newsprint will disintegrate.

In my opinion the ease of maintaining the electronic archive should be
investigated thoroughly before licensing an electronic journal. Not only
must the journal have an underlying SGML format, but it is important to
ensure that the SGML is of sufficient quality that it can be migrated
forward into, say, XML when that becomes the standard. Not all SGML is of
equal quality. Ask the publisher how they kow their SGML can be translated
into a new standard.

Then there is the question of accessibility by new versions of the
browsers. Does the publisher have any plans to make this year's issues
readable by the browsers which will appear in the year 2000? How do they
plan to do that?  Will they charge for the necessary upgrades?

If the journal is produced by a modern process, it should be possible to
make such upgrades almost entirely by automatic translation, which means
they can be accomplished within the current operating budget of the

So, I recommend that librarians consider more than price and usage when
making decisions about whether or not to license a given journal.

Dr. Peter B. Boyce                                                
Senior Consultant for Electronic Publishing              
American Astronomical Society                              
http:www.aas.org/~pboyce	pboyce@aas.org