Magazine article Computers in Libraries

Present at the Beginning

Magazine article Computers in Libraries

Present at the Beginning

Article excerpt

Were you present at the beginning? Not 'The Beginning," but the beginning of electronic journal publication.

The Directory of Electronic Journals and Newsletters, compiled by Michael Strangelove (1st ed. 1991), lists twenty-six titles in the section "electronic journals." I subscribe to eighteen. Most of these publications are available online via the Internet. Strangelove lists the following titles: Art Com ArtsNet Review Bryn Mawr Classical Review DargonZine The Distance Education Online

Symposium EJournal The Electronic Journal of the

Astronomical Society of the

Atlantic Electronic Journal of

Communications/La Revue

Electronique de Communication Fineart Forum Intertext Journal of the International Academy

of Hospitality Research New Horizons in Adult education NetWeaver Offline Online Journal of Distance Education

and Communication The Public-Access Computer

Systems News The Public-Access Computer

Systems Review Pigulki Postmodern Culture Psycoloquy Quanta Socjety [sic] Journal Tetrahedron Computing

Methodology TeXMag TeX Publication Distribution List Textual Studies in Canada

This list is certain to be out of date and incomplete, through no fault of the compiler. Such is the nature of the rapidly changing world of networked electronic publications. Of the publications listed, twenty-five are available online (Tetrahedron is published on diskette), and all but two are available without charge to the subscriber (the Journal of the International Academy of Hospitality Research and Tetrahedron charge subscription fees).

Strangelove also lists the titles of fourteen electronic journals and newsletters now defunct: Alternatives Journal Athene Biosphere FSFnet Magazine Interactive Journal of Creative Fiction Northwestnet News NSF Network News Online Notes Other Realms Rita-L Social Work Newsletter Swiftcurrent Synapse Transst

No doubt this list will grow, too. Unlike their print counterparts, the viability of electronic journals hinges on at least two factors: (1) service to their readers, and (2) the deployment, acceptance, and exploitation of network and computing and telecommunications technologies.

The reasons for the failure of an electronic publication are many and varied: failure to interest readers, an editor's lack of time or commitment, unreliable computing resources, little participation by would-be contributors. The list goes on. Absent from this list are a failure to advance scholarship or a failure to realize financial rewards.

The current environment provides easy entry into the forum or "marketplace" of electronic publications. Financial barriers for those already having access to computers and the network are nil. Desire and motivation are the primary requirements for editors, support staff, and contributors, and their efforts must be considered labors of love. This artificial economic environment is already changing, however, as publisher begin to test electronic serial publications in a marketplace that is still very much in flux.

It is not surprising that publishers would want to exploit the electronic medium for gain, whether it be measured in terms of the advancement of scholarship or return on investment. Apart from providing service to the reader, publishers and their electronic journals have technological and sociological barriers to overcome. …

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