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Getting a Grip on Electronic Journals

Magazine article Information Today

Getting a Grip on Electronic Journals

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Getting a Grip on Electronic Journals E-Serials Collection Management: Transitions, Trends, and Technicalities edited by David C. Fowler Binghamton, N.Y.: Haworth Press, 2004 ISBN: 0-7890-1754-7 279 pages $39.95

Dealing with serials has always been a complex part of library work. Unlike a "regular" monograph, which you buy, catalog, and put on the shelf for use, serials demand extra attention. For instance, you must keep track of individual issues, determine retention policies, bind volumes, and handle microfiche or microfilm.

In the past few years, we've seen the rise of electronic serials, which further complicates the mix. Maybe you thought it would all be simpler when journals went online. Surprise! We still have to deal with the old formats, but we have some new twists to worry about too. If you want to learn how other libraries are dealing with these new challenges, E-Serials Collection Management: Transitions, Trends, and Technicalities is a good place to start.

Editor David C. Fowler has collected 13 articles about current practices in eserials management. Fowler is electronic resources coordinator for acquisitions at Iowa State University's Parks Library. The contributors are mostly academic librarians, with a few special librarians and vendors thrown in the mix. The articles vary in topic and scope. Some simply describe specific projects at individual libraries, while others provide overviews of subjects that affect all libraries. In addition, several detail the practices of libraries in certain areas. I'll discuss the chapters I found most thought-provoking.

Patricia Loghry of the University of Notre Dame provides an interesting analysis of using a subscription agent for electronic journals. Most larger libraries utilize an agent to manage paper journal subscriptions. However, for electronic journals, it may be beneficial to go directly to the publisher or use another third-party provider. Loghry lays out some of the pluses and minuses of each approach. You may be able to negotiate a special deal directly with a publisher, especially as part of a consortium. You wouldn't be able to get this from an agent. However, you may have a great relationship with your subscription agent and want to use the special services that you don't get from the publisher.

Loghry concludes that in the future, libraries won't be able to keep up with the thousands of electronic subscriptions by themselves. In order to serve these libraries, agents will need to have excellent databases with current information.

I also enjoyed the chapter on e-books by Vivian Lewis of McMaster University. …

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