A library for the 21st Century - is e-only finally a possibility?
They outlined the recent history in Irish politics and how research had become a key strategy for the Irish Government in recent years. Ireland is a relatively small country with a population of only 4 million people and the NUI Galway Library (previously Sunday Times University of the Year) serves 17,000 students. They have a tradition of being early adopters of new technology (SFX, Metalib, Primo etc) and can the potential for great benefits such as saving on storage; binding and staff costs for example in moving towards e-only.
Over time there has been an evolution in the attitude towards e-journals on the behalf of academics and the collection management policy of the library has evolved too to a position where online subscription is now recommended over print where available.
In Ireland the cost for going e-only is amplified by VAT rates (print 13.5% and electronic 21%) but this has not deterred the NUI Galway Library who believe they save on the costs associated with print (ie storage, shelf space, staff time and binding) and are committed to going e-only wherever possible.
As part of the project they set up a Collection Management Committee to consider any issues raised by academics such as quality of images used online being inferior to print and to ensure core titles (JAMA, the Lancet, BMJ etc) are kept on display. Academics were informed of planned print cancellations and given time to submit any pleas for retention by a set deadline.
This is a legacy project and when complete they hope to be up to 75% e-only by this summer. Moving away from practices which began in the 19th Century and creating a library for the 21st century has meant making big changes (staffing; job descriptions etc) to ensure the library team have the necessary skills. The renewals process too has been so complex that it has taken Swets longer than usual to finish...with some still outstanding.
However, at NUI Galway they appear to be making steady progress towards an e-only library - something that they (and others I'm sure) have been talking about for the past decade. It was interesting to see how far they have come.