Over the past ten years, we have quietly and slowly undertaken a revolution in the way we access scholarly journal articles. Our periodicals department once managed 1600 print and microform subscriptions. Now we manage 63,000 access points to journal articles (print, electronic, and microform) through our GetTeXt service (SFX).
Several years ago we moved our bound journals from our first floor to the lower level. Just this past summer, we switched our subscriptions from print to electronic except for titles that are 1) leisure reading/magazines and 2) not available electronically. We currently stand at 388 print subscriptions.
As our current periodicals area was meant for a much larger collection, we are in the midst of cutting in half the amount of shelving we use, leaving more space for a comfortable lounge area, coming later this spring.
Anecdotally, we understand that some of our users still want to access their scholar journal articles in print and may be alarmed by our changes. In our community of 9,000 users, however, the data point to the majority of our users wanting instantaneous access to journal articles 24/7.
The following data illustrate the sharp decline in our print/microform titles as well as the rise in electronic use. I hope these illustrations help explain why we are making the switch to electronic:
We can break down that use by format:
Which of our print titles are getting the most use? These graphs show current periodicals used more than 50 times in a fiscal year (July 1-July 30):
As use continues to decline on the print front, we are moving our extremely limited funds to support electronic access. Here’s just one example of why moving to electronic makes sense. In the fall of 2007, we canceled 46 print titles, all published by Elsevier. These 46 titles cost us $60,000 in FY08. The costs of these subscriptions were rising approx. 10% each year. We canceled those 46 print titles in favor of Elsevier’s College Edition, a series of three packages totaling 2100 titles in the areas of physical sciences, life & health sciences, and social and behavioral sciences. The cost for College Edition? $33,000. The annual price increases? A mere 3%. We saved nearly $30,000 and added access to 2,000 more titles. And is College Edition being used? In 2009, 34,440 full text articles were downloaded.
Our students, faculty, and staff can access electronic journals whether they are studying in China, at a conference in San Francisco, or in their apartment across town. They can access the content at 3:00 in the morning or at 12 noon. They can save the articles to their desktop or print them out.
Is electronic access to journals perfect? Of course not. Is research easier, quicker and more convenient with electronic journals? Yes.
What are your questions? Please share in the comments.