Economics and Usage of Digital Libraries: Byting the BulletSkip other details (including permanent urls, DOI, citation information)
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18.3 Development of Drexel's Electronic Journal Collection
In the spring of 1998 only one full-text journal collection was accessible via the Drexel Library's web site, and database access was limited to text-based systems. That summer the web site was completely re-designed and by the fall more than 20 databases and several collections of full-text journals were available. The total number of print journals was 1,700 titles at the time. For 1999 and 2000 the number of print-only journal subscriptions was reduced to 1,100 and about 800 respectively. Some of the reductions were made because we had subscribed to an electronic counterpart; the other journals were not renewed primarily on the basis of low use. During the fall of 1998 through 1999, and into 2000, electronic subscriptions were sought out aggressively and added as they became available, bringing the fall 2000 total to over 6,000 unique electronic titles. Print-only renewals for 2001 were about 300.
The selection/ordering/acquiring process is far more complex for electronic journals than for print journals. The methods for purchase often include buying packages of titles or services, many with value-added features. Reviewing and negotiating proper terms for e-journal licenses is a major aspect of the complexity. Additionally, new variables must be considered (e.g., graphics, linking options, comparability with the corresponding print publication, web interface functionality, and other value-added features).
When the publisher's policy is to require purchase of the print journal in order to obtain access to the electronic journal, we attempt to negotiate a discount for the e-journal only. This has met with limited success so far, but does have the advantage of educating publishers about our needs. Because of the added cost of receiving, processing, binding and storing the print issues, we do not retain print journals even if we have paid for them. Some of these journals are never shipped by the publishers; others are retained by our serials vendor for their back issue file; and still others arrive and are given to our back issue jobber.
Drexel's approach to back files of print journals will seem cavalier, if not totally irresponsible, to those concerned with the archival role of libraries. Our position is that archival storage in most subject areas is not part of the mission of the Drexel Library. On a national — even international — basis archiving of old, little-used journals would be much more cost effective if done centrally or in a few places for redundancy. This is true of both electronic and print formats. We are willing to make the leap of faith that this will happen, and are ready to pay the cost of access to the archived materials when they are needed. There are numerous well-qualified national and international organizations addressing this issue, including the Research Library Group and OCLC.