More Questions Than Answers: Archiving Journals

In the bad old days (oh the simple joys of the 1980s!) librarians purchased individual journal issues. After a bunch of issues accumulated, we bound the issues into a colorful volume and placed it on a shelf. And thus was journal archiving. Only theft, fire, or rain could possibly interfere with this simple process.

But the Oughts have brought us new questions about archiving journals. We no longer receive printed journal issues for most titles. Should we care about archiving? Should librarians figure out a way to safely store digital information? Publishers haven’t wasted much time figuring out that they can charge libraries content that already been paid for at least once, but we all know that libraries cannot continue to make these hefty payments.

I just read about Journal of Cell Science, whose publisher has digitized and made available for free its entire 155 volume run. Should I keep the brief holdings that my library has retained (1967-1980)? Should I send the volumes to Madison? Should every state have a complete print run of Journal of Cell Science? How do we determine which libraries preserve which titles?

I worry that all librarians have as many questions about journal archiving as I do and that the questions are not getting answered. Is it too late for these questions?



January 9, 2008. journal archiving, News.

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