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Re: If electronic is to replace paper

I am truly glad to see so much interest in the establishment of national
centers for accessing and archiving STM literature (and yes, I agree that
the two functions are different).

In my "pre-Varmus" editorial in SCIENCE of April 17, 1998, p. 359, titled
"On the Future of Scholarly Journals," I closed by writing:

"A standing committee of publishers, librarians, and information
technologists should be formed to decide how a network of multiple
archival sites can best be configured. Compatibility is obviously
essential. Preservation of the world's scientific heritage in digital form
over decades of changing software and hardware is imperative. Such an
archive must not be vulnerable to market forces or to shortsighted
business decisions. This argues for at least a "repository of last
resort," perhaps best kept by the Library of Congress, consisting of
off-line storage of abandoned materials."

I considered this to be an absolute minimum. Clearly, other national
libraries should be involved as well, and on line access should be a goal.
While there seemed little reaction to this aspect of the editorial when it
appeared, it is gratifying to see the strong interest now expressed in
these recent postings.

This is especially true since we cannot rely upon any publisher's
assurances that its digital archives will be maintained in perpetuity,
even though I am certain that such assurances have been given in complete
sincerity by a few companies. The simple fact is that in time some
companies go out of business. Others sell part or all of their operations
if no longer sufficiently profitable, or to raise cash to enter new

One might think that the sale of journals to another publisher means that
the obligation to maintain digital archives of those journals forever will
be a binding part of the contract of sale, but this should not be assumed.
For one thing, the contract must be written so as to incorporate this
obligation. Since the obligation involves an open ended expense to the
potential buyer, it may not be attractive to include it. For another
thing, the transaction may be merely an "assets deal."  In an assets deal
the buyer assumes only the assets he has paid for, leaving the seller with
the financial liabilities. Perpetual access to a digital archive of
journals the seller no longer owns is not something I would care to bet
on.  Hence the very real need for some sort of repository of last resort.

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


David Goodman wrote:

> I think the proposed role for national libraries is a very good
> possiblility, and suggest that the need for diversity would most naturally
> accomplished if each of the major national libraries did archiving, and,
> preferably, did it differently.
> 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
> __________________________________
> Sally Morris wrote:
> >
> > Recent postings about archiving, and who is responsible, make me
> > increasingly aware that we tend to confuse 2 very different things when we
> > use the term 'archiving':
> >
> > 1)  long-term (no-one dares say 'permanent' any more!) preservation
> >
> > 2)  continued access, to material previously paid for, after the cessation
> > of the licence
> >
> > Perhaps we should forswear the use of the term 'archiving' altogether, to
> > avoid this confusion!
> >
> > Preservation is both difficult and expensive.  It therefore makes no
> > economic sense for libraries to undertake it individually.  Personally, I
> > don't think it's appropriate for publishers to do it either, since they
> > are (naturally) driven by commercial imperatives and therefore have little
> > incentive to maintain material which no longer has commercially
> > significant value.  Large and 'permanent' institutions, such as
> > national/deposit libraries, therefore seem a better bet (though someone
> > still has to cover the considerable costs!);  some redundancy (at least 2
> > copies, preferably more, preserved in different ways) also seems prudent.
> >
> > Contined access is a matter of licensing.  It certainly seems to be the
> > preferred journal licensing model for most libraries, although it is not
> > typical of other content licences.  Many publishers (cf the various model
> > licences in circulation - there's a listing on the 'Resources' page at
> > www.alpsp.org.uk) are accommodating this preference.
> >
> > Sally
> >
> > Sally Morris, Secretary-General
> > Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers
> > South House, The Street, Clapham, Worthing, West Sussex BN13 3UU, UK
> >
> > Phone:  01903 871686 Fax:  01903 871457 E-mail:  sec-gen@alpsp.org.uk
> > ALPSP Website  http://www.alpsp.org.uk