Re: Should Publishers Offer Free-Access Services?

From: Thomas J. Walker <tjw_at_GNV.IFAS.UFL.EDU>
Date: Fri, 28 Aug 1998 12:21:01 -0400

Vivienne Monty, Senior Librarian, wrote:

>--What is of greater concern in for-pay services is that libraries are NOT
>paying for archival copies, that is, they are paying for current access
>and when they quit paying annual fees, all access is cut off. At least in
>the paper world, a library had what they bought and researchers could
>refer to materials even centuries later.

This should be a major concern for all researchers. If commercial
publishers control the archival access to articles for the duration of
copyright (author's life plus 50 years), think of what they might do. (Think
the price trends of subscriptions to commercially published journals and
then eliminate interlibrary loans!)

>--Somehow most who have written on this topic seem to feel that archives
>will be around in the ether of it all. Unless we make sure that we have
>the same archival systems that we do for paper, I fear none of these
>self-published or even society published materials will be around for
>long. Technology moves too fast and societies do die. Much has already
>been lost in the first computer generated files that no machine can read

In my opinion, libraries should actively solicit scientific societies to
post and archive the PDF files of the articles in their paper-published
journals. The cost of posting would be trivial--because with toll-free
access only a small number of libraries need do it for any one journal.
[And after all, libraries are _paying_ commercial publishers for the right
to temporarily post PDF files of _their_ articles. For example, Florida
Center for Library Automation pays Elsevier a percentage of its paper
subscription costs to post (for a few years) PDF files of 650 Elsevier
journals on FCLA servers].

The archiving is important and logical for reasons state above. If
libraries establish their role as reliable archivers of electronic versions
of paper-published journals, they will be in good position to maintain that
role in the all-electronic future. If access to journal articles (or what
replaces them) is toll-free in that future, libraries should be able to use
funds that formerly went for subscriptions and site licenses to pay for the
posting and archiving.

Thomas J. Walker
Department of Entomology & Nematology
University of Florida, PO Box 110620, Gainesville, FL 32611-0620
E-mail: FAX: (352)392-0190
Received on Tue Aug 25 1998 - 19:17:43 BST

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