Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship Summer 1997

Conference Reports

ACRL College Science Librarians Discussion Group

Helena F. Warburg
Williams College

The College Science Librarian's discussion group topic, "Ownership vs. Access" attracted record numbers. This year's discussion group included several university librarians and a few vendors for on-line information.

Alexa Jaffurs, Science Librarian from Amherst College, talked about Amherst College's experiences with full-text journals. Amherst does not mount any full-text journals locally although they participate in Project MUSE and will be signing with IDEAL in the near future. Decisions to own or to rely on remote access are based on availability and user demand. Amherst is a member of a five college consortium that is moving from SilverPlatter to OVID. The five college consortium will mount databases locally to increase speed and access. All of Amherst's electronic resources are cataloged, and with the addition of WEBCAT and access to links, use of electronic journals is expected to increase. At the present time, access to full-text journals is not cheaper than subscribing to the paper version. It would be more prudent to fund tables of contents services, although Elsevier and FAXON are worth investigating.

Raye-Lynn Thomas, Associate Librarian from Sonoma State University, discussed the consortium that exists for California State Universities. The University has a computer access requirement for its students, and the library tries to promote as much remote access as possible to information resources. There is a California State University consortium that meets quarterly. Month-long trials are arranged for electronic resources. Some of these resources are available to the community at large to test while others are previewed by a select group of users. There is a special section for trial subscriptions on the library homepage. Sonoma State is reviewing IDEAL and may subscribe next year. They currently offer an "electronic collection" that includes Dow Jones, LEXIS, Brittanca, and U.S.A. Statistics. An electronic core collection of full-text journals is being considered but is currently only in the embryonic stage. Sonoma State recently added the JSTOR journals to their collection. To promote full-text journals, they put up a display in front of the library for all the full-text journals to which they subscribe.

Charles Meyers, acting Library Director from Franklin & Marshall College, stated that his library belongs to several different consortia and that everyone seems to be doing similiar things. He compared consortia to the stock market and said that institutions have much more bargaining power in groups. EBSCO is one vendor that appears very willing to negotiate. Mr. Meyers doesn't believe that electronic full-text journals are all they are cracked up to be. What about the good paper collections that are already in place? Students do not discriminate among on-line sources. As long as it's electronic, they think it's great. Faculty aren't as enthusiastic as we think. Most of them are tired of change and prefer journals in paper format. Small schools should let big schools who have the funding make the mistakes. Mr. Meyers wonders which institution will drop project MUSE first?!

Major questions which remain unresolved were: who will provide the archival copies of journals, how much will they cost, and is electronic access going to cost us more in the long term than subscriptions to journals in paper format?

Anyone with comments about this years program or topic suggestions for 1998 Science Librarian's Discussion Group should contact Helena Warburg, Science Librarian, Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts (hwarburg@williams.edu)


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