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Re: Libraries and archiving (Re: RE: If electronic is to replace paper)

At 17:37 17/11/99 -0500, Rick Anderson 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.  
>Hear, hear.  Publishing and archiving are very, very different endeavors,
>and it's not fair for librarians (who have never expected publishers to
>act as an archive before) to suddenly insist that publishers do so now, in
>the electronic environment.  Getting the content out to market in a
>reasonably durable format is the publisher's job; saving the phyical or
>electronic manifestations of that content for future use is the

There are some serious technical and licensing problems with this. The
electronic representation available to licensees will be in a display
format such as HTML or PDF or more proprietary formats on CD publications.
Many of these formats are subject to obsolescence over the years as
software evolves and commercial fortunes change. The publisher holds (or
should hold) a more durable representation of the data based on SGML/XML.
Only if you have access to this can you be sure that in decades to come you
will be able to gain electronic access to the works in a convenient form.
What is the likelihood that in 20 years time we will have full backwards
compatibility in web browsers (or whatever we are using then) to todays
'primitive' HTML markup?

Publishers will have to constantly reprocess electronic publications to
keep the display formats current with available technologies, either to
provide the best modern display or to jump over formats that are no longer
supported by software applications. This seems to put the archiving role
squarely into the publishers corner.

It seems unlikely that publishers will licence their source data to
libraries for archival purposes. Why would libraries want to take on the
role of maintaining current electronic publications from such data, even if
they could get it? They would have to become publishers in their own right.

Regardless of who does it, it will cost money.

Peter Meyer
Peter Meyer
National Electronic Publishing Manager
LawNow Limited
web:   www.lawnow.com.au
email: Peter_Meyer@lawnow.com.au
Ph:    61 2 9922 3096