Scholarly Publishing in an Electronic Era

By Wulff, Judith L. | Journal of the Medical Library Association, October 2005 | Go to article overview

Scholarly Publishing in an Electronic Era


Wulff, Judith L., Journal of the Medical Library Association


Scholarly Publishing in an Electronic Era. Edited by G. E. Gordon. London, UK: Facet Publishing, 2005. 219 p. $155.00. ISBN: 1-85604-536-6. (International Yearbook of Library and Information Management 20040 -2005.).

Like the shoemaker whose children lack for shoes, health sciences librarians can often be so busy with the challenges of operations and so short of funds to maintain collections for their clients, that they neglect studying the context of their own profession. That context can be too close and too day to day for thoughtful reflection. The International Yearbook of Library and Information Management is a series that annually addresses historical development, current practice, major issues, and speculations about the future, centered on a theme that is addressed from varying points of view. Scholarly Publishing in an Electronic Era is the fifth book in this series.

Editor Gordon has recruited ten experts from universities and various aspects of the publishing industry. In this case, "international" seems to mean the English-speaking world, with writers mainly from the United Kingdom and Australia. Nevertheless, many of their examples and references are taken from research and experience in, and applicable to, the United States and developed, non-English-speaking countries.

Gordon lays the groundwork for the volume's theme in a cogent introduction by saying that scholarly publishing "has become extremely dynamic and surprisingly evolutionary" (p. xii) and following up with an overview of scholarly publishing. Rowland then provides a brief history and rationale and discusses the roles of peer review, scholarly societies, and commercial publishers; the disruptive effects of technological change; the rise and apparent fall of the Big Deal and effects of consortial purchasing; the radical alternatives of open access, institutional repositories, and self-archiving; and new models for quality assurance. Wise discusses the antagonism between librarians and publishers and suggests that the reputations of both could be enhanced by collaboration in addressing challenges in the areas of collective licensing, copyright, and preservation.

Steele summarizes the recent history of exploding journal costs and the domination of materials budgets by science, technology, and medicine (STM) from a library perspective. He argues that the academic library's role in the twenty-first century will expand from access and storage of scholarly materials to curation and distribution. Development of institutional repositories has shown the need for effective knowledge mapping as the definition of scholarly materials widens to include images, data sets, Websites, and other digital objects. Steele's concise review of forces favoring open access and institutional archiving will be a valuable resource to inform discussions with university research offices as institutions work to comply with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) public access policies. From a publisher's perspective, Cox discusses the Big Deal, the collapse of RoweCom, and the challenges presented by open access and open archives: "We now know that new entrants into an industry can revolutionize the way things are done. …

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