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Re: If electronic is to replace paper

A few comments on recent postings regarding archiving by libraries:

1. I remain highly skeptical that most libraries have the resources to set
up, maintain, and upgrade a large electronic database containing the
journals in their collection. What might seem more practical is to set up
regional archive centers which could be tapped by libraies, but I can
foresee and understand the opposition most publishers would express
regarding such complex and hard to control arrangements. And anyway, what
does "regional" or "local" mean in this age of rapid, long distance
communication? That seems to leave us with the option of having one
centralized, well-staffed and well financed database. But we must not lose
sight of the risks taken when our database for science and technology
resides under one roof.

2. There is a major jockying for strategic positions going on between and
among publishers and such organizations as the Association of American
Publishers, the Copyright Clearance Center, the various document delivery
companies, and so on, regarding who will control the flow of electronic
versions of journal articles, and collect the fees therefrom, keeping some
proportion for their troubles. Just what proportion is reasonable and fair
is going to be a major bone of contention that will take a long time to
sort out. Even so-called "not-for-profit" organizations have internal
bureaucracies which find excuses to increase staff and the need for
supporting funds, just like any bureaucracy. The general rule is that
administrative costs rise faster than projected.

3. As has been pointed out, electronic journals cannot include advertising
to the same extent as can print journals. Hence those journals which
depend on advertising for a significant portion of their total revenues
will experience a marked reduction in that revenue, which could mean
increased rather than decreased prices, depending on the journal.

Alan M. Edelson, Ph.D.
(retired) President and CEO
J.B. Lippincott Company

Hal Cain wrote:

> 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
> <hal.cain@ormond.unimelb.edu.au>