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

I agree with Mr. Meyer about libraries acting as useful archives for
thousands of online journals. The reality is that libraries can "archive"
or store data in various formats currently being used by publishers to
deliver journals, such as PDF, HTML, SGML/XML, Postscript, TeX, plain
ASCII text, etc. (some of which, as Meyer points out, will cease to be
usable over time). But can they afford and do they have the expertise to
build, maintain and refresh the systems to integrate and deliver all of
this data effectively to their patrons, particularly given the variety of
SGML/XML DTDs and searching and linking algorithms involved in the
publishers' delivery systems? "Getting the content out to market in a
reasonably durable format," as an earlier arguer put it, is still what the
publishers are doing when they build elaborate full-text journal web sites
using an SGML database. As it happens, they're also building in some cases
impressive archives and universal access points at the same time,
something only libraries were able to do effectively in the world of
print. But publishers are not going to give libraries the proprietary
source code driving these sites that has cost them in some cases hundreds
of thousands if not millions of dollars to create, and which would be
difficult to assimilate and to integrate by a third party in any case.

Ted Freeman

At 08:43 AM 11/18/99 -0500, you wrote:
>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

                               Ted Freeman 
                    Director of Electronic Publishing 

Allen Press, Inc.               Voice:  800-627-0326 x170 
1041 New Hampshire St.    Fax:    785-843-1244 
Lawrence, KS 66044          <mailto:tfreeman@allenpress.com>

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