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Electronic availability

David Goodman's post of Fri, 17 Sep 1999 raises an important point. By
making things available, you are greatly influencing usage. A pair of our
astute astronomy librarians, Sarah Stevens-Rayburn at the Space Telescope
Science Institute and Ellen Bouton at the National Radio Astronomy
Observatory, have written a paper entitled "If It's Not On the Web, it
Doesn't Exist at All." (
http://www.eso.org/gen-fac/libraries/lisa3/stevens-rayburns.html ) This
points out the tendency, especially among today's younger scientists to
only go to the Web for their sources.

Of course, what this means is that if you sign up for, say, the full
Elsevier set of electronic journals, you will ultimately be directing the
usage toward the poor quality as well as the better journals -- probably
to the detriment of other, better journals.  So, the choices which
libraries make will have a large impact upon the selection of journals
which get referred to by your end users. Perhaps, it is irresponsible to
automatically accept such a complete package, even if it seems attractive
from the pricing standpoint. So, I urge everyone to consider the negative
effect of your decisions. Sure, you get extra "free" access, but is that
the best thing for maintaining the quality of scholarship in your

Another slant on this is to consider what the important references in a
given field will be twenty years from now. They will be the things we
actually have saved and can access easily, not the things that, from a
quality standpoint, we should have saved.

--Peter Boyce--

Peter B. Boyce    -   Senior Consultant for Electronic Publishing, AAS
email: pboyce@aas.org
Summer address:  (until 10/25/99)
33 York St., Nantucket, MA 02554   	Phone:  508-228-9062