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67 6 E-JOURNALS IN BUSINESS PLANNING FOR DIGITAL LIBRARIES Mel Collier and Hilde Van Kiel State of the art In no other aspect of the digital library has the development been so rapid and the dominance so definitively established as in e-journals. In 1995 e-journals still existed only in embryonic and experimental form, whereas now, only fifteen years later, e-journals are the dominant method of publishing in the natural and the exact sciences and the preferred way of publishing research results. It is estimated that there are now (2008-9) some 59,549 e-journals in existence and any large broadly based university library is likely to have subscriptions to a substantial proportion of the available total, normally through the so-called “big deals”. At the University of Leuven for instance some 23,276 e-journals are available to users. While it is true that growth in the humanities has not been so dramatic, the trend towards electronic publishing can also be discerned there, encouraged by the wealth of access now available to humanities scholars through retrospective digitization programmes. The dominance of e-journals is graphically illustrated by the increasing debate over whether for certain disciplines the traditional library as a place is required at all. This debate is likely to be liveliest where the library is highly research orientated in a narrow enough set of disciplines where it can reasonably be said that e-journals can satisfy the great majority of needs, and where there is no overriding mission to retain paper stocks and subscriptions for long-term preservation purposes. This debate at the biomedical campus of the University of Leuven has led to a decision to go e-only in the campus library. Similarly the chemistry departmental library at the University of Oxford had already been effectively abolished in favour of online access as early as 2003. The dominance of e-journals is further illustrated by the proportion of the journals budget that is devoted to them. At Leuven in 2009 around 75% of current journal titles are available electronically (due to pricing policies and differential value added tax rates a substantial number are for the time being also available as print), which itself may not be a particularly high proportion because of the strength of the humanities and the need for Dutch language publications. This change, radical enough in itself, has also brought another fundamental change in the market and in the relationship between publisher and user or subscriber. With paper journals the subscriber becomes the owner of the purchased volumes, whereas in the electronic domain the subscriber normally obtains only access to, not ownership of, the current output. This leads to concerns over continuity of access in the future and to provision for preservation of the research record. It is true that several publishers who only BPDG_opmaak_12072010.indd 67 13/07/10 11:51 Mel Collier and Hilde Van Kiel 68 license access to current output nevertheless sell ownership of the archive or permanent access after a certain period. This may provide reassurance about access in the long term if technical aspects of preservation and legal guarantees can be solved. Brief historical review Although ideas for e-journals had been circulating for some time the first experiments started to appear as early as the 1980s. In Britain, for instance the BLEND (Shakel 1983) project was supported by the British Library Research and Development Department. Other experimental projects included HyperBIT (Mcknight 1993). By 1992 the chairman of the Advisory Committee of the British Library’s Research and Development Department, Sir Peter Swinnerton-Dyer, wrote a paper suggesting it was time for electronic journals to be established in the UK on a regular rather than experimental basis (Meadows 1994). In the middle of the 1990s the first commercial products began to appear. By 1995 there were about 100 peer-reviewed e-journals available (Hitchcock 1998). The growth to the present figure amounts to a phenomenal change in the structure of an industry, in the process of scholarly communication and in library economics over an extremely short period. This growth in e-journals generally brought great improvements in access to scholarly publication, both in immediacy of access (provided you have access to the Internet) and in range of accessible journals (provided you or your institution can afford them). The Big Deal appeared on the market. The change from ownership to licensing of access began to change the nature of the library and the behaviour of...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9789461660015
Related ISBN
9789058678379
MARC Record
OCLC
715171689
Pages
250
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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