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Re: If electronic is to replace paper

Somers, Michael wrote:
> Some very good ideas have been expressed.  However, why are libraries now
> advocating publishers or disinterested third parties archive electronic
> journals?  Libraries need to, in my opinion, archive and maintain access
> to the electronic journals they have subscribed to.  If we consider the
> electronic version optimal choice for our users, then we must learn how to
> manage them in perpetuity.  Personally, I do not believe libraries need to
> pay vendors, publishers, or others a fee to refresh the data or the
> technology.  Again, once libraries have paid for the subscription, the
> artifact should be ours.

What this opinion appears to disregard is that the world is changing
around us.

In the world of electronic information, retaining control of the
database is seen as the key to assuring future income.  Therefore, what
is offered on subscription is not the purchase of a copy of the
information, but the right of access.  Whether or not that right is
perpetual is usually one of the terms that has to be negotiated by the
licensee before signing.  If the agency offering the database has
limited rights to the information (e.g. it may have a ten-year license
to offer a particular journal's backfile) it cannot grant rights beyond
what it has itself.

This licencing pattern is familiar because it's the pattern for allowing
use of software -- you buy a licence to use it, you don't acquire
ownership of your copy.  Read the agreements you click accept when you
install a new version of Windows, or sign when you take on a new library
system, or an accounting package.

The other factor disregarded is the difficulty faced by an individual
library in providing and managing access to such files.  I know almost
nothing about this, but are there simple universal solutions to managing
search engines, keeping hotlinks working, keeping files up to date, and
validating the accuracy of the database at any particular time?
> Sorry to be ornery, but an electronic version does not have to be an
> equivalent of the print version.  Advertisements, certain types of
> announcements such as calls for papers, conference dates, etc. and other
> parts of a print journal do not need to be included in the electronic
> version.  I do not think it is necessary to continue the same paradigm in
> the electronic versions as have been used in the print.  Certainly, links
> and enriched contents need to be continued and promoted, but more
> importantly are the need for helpful navigation tools and the ability to
> quickly return to one's starting point, without having to backtrack
> endlessly.

The question whether an electronic journal need be the direct equivalent
of the print version has surely been answered in practice -- it's not. 
If you want an equivalent, for preservation, you'll have to scan it
yourself (and make sure you have the necessary permissions to do so,
since it's hardly what's meant by "fair use")!  But even print versions
differ -- in such a journal as New Scientist, the version printed in
Australia differs from the British parent -- chiefly in the
advertisments, but also in some editorial content.

Hal Cain
Joint Theological Library
Parkville, Victoria, Australia