Tuesday, March 31, 2009

From Timbuktu to Here

How many electronic journals will have the shelf-life of the famous texts of Timbuktu, which are still readable and preserved today? This question set the theme for the session on Access and Preservation for Electronic Journals, led by Terry Morrow.

Continued access to journals is a shared problem, Morrow argues - everyone who gains a benefit from the availability of e-journals should take a part in solving the problem. The specific problems for e-journals are:
  • Continued access after a subscription has been cancelled, but does subscription = ownership?
  • What do you save? Articles are often built on the fly from various components, including complex metadata files.
  • Technology: don't assume that PDF will be around for ever.

Preservation is never a free option, but can be viewed as insurance cover for the future. These costs will be ongoing, not one off so a full risk analysis against costs should be done before preservation decisions are made.

The current economic climate is making the loss of journals very real with concerns about loss of vulnerable publishers and the ability to maintain subscriptions: the impact of the euro exchange rate on UK subscriptions is causing problems now for institutions.

Chris Rusbridge via the power of twitter and blogging poses the fact that this is a very real problem. There are a variety of different scenarios outlined by Chris with regard to the loss of journals, but the crux of the question is - who is responsible for taking the action to preserve journals. This ties in with questions from the room about how do we assess the value of the journals. A serious question for attendees at UKSG.

A range of preservation systems were described: LOCKSS, CLOCKSS, Portico, e-Depot, OCLC ECO, and British Library developments. Managing the trigger events for all of these systems and the roles and the responsibilities for all the stakeholders are different in each system.

There is a challenge for all of the attendees at UKSG to answer the question, am I responsible?

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