What academic libraries need from e-publishers
Paper presented at the 8th ICCC International Conference on Electronic Publishing.
While electronic publications can greatly increase a university community’s access to information, they also pose many challenges to the libraries charged with collecting and managing them. In the print environment, libraries purchase and own content in perpetuity, while in the electronic environment, they generally lease access to content for limited time periods on a subscription basis. This paradigm shift, often referred to as the “ownership vs. access” model, has profound consequences. The leasing of information is frequently governed by a license agreement entered into by the library and a publisher or vendor. As license agreements are contracts, and, in the United States contract law supersedes existing law such as U.S. Copyright Law, license agreements have the power to undo a user community’s rights to use information in ways long assumed in the print environment. Publishers and libraries must work together to negotiate agreements that benefit both. Beyond the development of fair license agreements, e-publishers wanting to market to academic libraries should design their products in ways that allow them to be easily integrated into a libraries greater e-collection and infrastructure. Today, many libraries are implementing products that integrate their individual e-subscriptions, allowing interlinking of abstracting and indexing databases with full-text sources, and providing the ability to search across multiple databases simultaneously. Publishers must also work collaboratively with libraries to address the issue of archiving in the electronic environment. The libraries role to continue to collect and preserve the history of our society is uncertain in the digital world, where most libraries are as yet unprepared and unequipped to systematically handle large volumes of electronic content. Even where they are able to do so, the contracts governing use of electronically published materials frequently forbid libraries from duplicating their content for archival purposes. For usability, e-publications need to be designed with levels of granularity that provide the ability to link directly to the article level in journals is essential. Article level linking is necessary for libraries to effectively integrate various systems via link-resolvers and course management software. Both publishers and libraries need to be able to collect information about the use of their e-content, so the development of standards for usage statistics must be achieved. In order to manage their e-collections, libraries need to be able to collect usage statistics, just as they collect and analyze circulation statistics for their print collections. A new international Code of Practice, developed by COUNTER, is gaining wide international support by librarians and e-publishers, as well as they professional organizations, and libraries are increasingly asking their e-publishers to be COUNTER compliant.
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