Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Transitioning to Electronic-Only Journals Workshop

Interesting workshop on Monday. I really appreciated the participation from our faculty, Mario D'Amato, Tom Lairson, and Barry Levis. They gave us a broad spectrum of opinions about where we at Rollins should be going in terms of this issue. Also from our librarians Mary Throumoulos, Dorothy Mays, and Yvonne Jones. All of whom also had a broad spectrum of opinion.

I found a couple of things really interesting. The first is that the ARL libraries are moving very aggressively from print to digital journal collections. This means we cannot rely on them to play their traditional role of library of last resort for print collections. So if we care about the ultimate preservation of this literature in this format (and I think we have to, if not specifically as librarians at Rollins College with the mission and resources to support the curriculum, then more generally as professional librarians) this means that we cannot depend on the insurance of ARL libraries to retain print journals while we move quickly to digital versions. But, since we do not have the resources to preserve these print resources for the long term on a scale that is meaningful for the wider society, I don't think we can not act and avoid this migration from print to digital.
Secondly, if the colleges that participated in the workshop are representative of liberal arts colleges then Rollins is by no means moving too fast from print to digital. Some libraries are being forced along this continuum by circumstances beyond their control. Others -- often with the support of their constituents -- have decided to move more quickly.

If Ithaka had a hidden agenda in organizing this workshop it was to make sure that libraries act strategically and plan for this this move rather than being forced into it. To this end, we developed the following plan:

  1. We have reaffirmed that our default format for current subscriptions is digital. We will only continue to subscribe to print based on cost, availability, or user need.
  2. During the current academic year, we will review all existing print subscriptions to ensure that we are following through with (1). The liaison librarians will lead this review coordinated by Mary.
  3. Over the next two years, we will improve our data collection and use for both print and digital journals. Liaisons need to be able access to this data and use it, preferably in real time. Collection of data needs to be automated as far as possible. Data about usage, price, licensing, vendor, contract, and notes about history and decisions etc. should all be stored in one place.
  4. Over the next two years, we will continue to integrate our indexing of print and electronic resources. Adding MARC records for our online journals to the catalog is a big step in this process. We should continue to work on making our paper publications accessible through our electronic indexes (e.g. Serials Solutions A-Z list, and hence the link resolver) even as our paper holdings decrease. The more we can give print and digital the same access points, the easier it will be to make the shift between them.
  5. Over the next three years, we will reconsider the whole concept of a print backfile of the journal literature in relationship to our mission. We will find an effective balance between a legacy print collection, a digital collection, and access to a wider range of the journal literature, perhaps through a "pay per use" arrangement, with the overall aim of better serving our users and shrinking the footprint of the print journal collection.
  6. Over the next three years, as the print journal collection shrinks we will actively seek uses of the space for people not print collections. This could mean group study space, contemplative space, or a learning commons, or something not yet imagined. Use of this space should be aimed at most effectively serving the core educational mission of the College.

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