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Re: Libraries and archiving

The analogy between print and electronic is not complete.

In the case of print publishing, the two functions of initial distribution
and of permanent archiving are separate, and done differently. The
publisher produces a specific number of physical objects, and send them to
the customers. (He may retain a supply to send in the future, or not.) But
once they are distributed, that role is finished. (I am not now including
the functions involved in the maintainance of copyright.) The operations
of organizing, preserving, storing, and servicing the items are completely
unlike in the type of staffing and capital equipment needed. The publisher
does not maintain stacks, or provide for public intellectual and physical

For electronic distribution, the functions of current distribution and
permanent access are the identical in all basic technical aspects. A
server must be maintained; access connections must be maintained; backup
must be reliably achieved; a public access interface must be developed and
maintained. The same capital equipment is needed for permanent archival
access as for current access; the same type of professional and technical
staffing is needed.

>From all technical standpoints it is therefore rational for the publishing
sector to undertake provision of permanent archival access. The question
is organizational: Does a publisher have sufficient commitment to the
critical value of long term perpetual reliable access?

Libraries have this commitment--we are trained to expect it and provide
it, and we are funded on that basis by organizations that expect and
intend to have very long term existence. Universities and similar
organizations manage their affairs so as to make as certain as human
beings can that they will continue their scholarly functions until the end
of civilization. I do not think publishers--or scientific societies for
that matter--usually think in these terms, and archiving by definition
cannot rely on organizations with shorter range goals.

David Goodman 
Biology Librarian, and
Co-Chair, Electronic Journals Task Force
Princeton University Library 
dgoodman@princeton.edu         http://www.princeton.edu/~biolib/
phone: 609-258-3235            fax: 609-258-2627