Digitizing the Accounting Historians Journal: A Short History

By Kurtz, Royce D.; Herrera, David K. et al. | Accounting Historians Journal, December 2006 | Go to article overview

Digitizing the Accounting Historians Journal: A Short History


Kurtz, Royce D., Herrera, David K., Moussalli, Stephanie D., Accounting Historians Journal


Abstract: The University of Mississippi Library has digitized the Accounting Historians Journal from 1974 through 1992, cover-to-cover. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants' gift of their library to the University of Mississippi was, fortuitously, the impetus for the AHJ digitizing project. A complicated chain of events followed which included discussions with the Academy of Accounting Historians for copyright permission, an application for a federal grant, negotiations with software vendors, and decisions about search capabilities and display formats. Each article in AHJ is now full-text searchable with accompanying PDF page images.

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The story of how the University of Mississippi Library (UML) came to digitize the early years of the Accounting Historians Journal (AHJ) begins with a fortuitous series of events involving four organizations (1):

* the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), a nonprofit, professional organization

* the Institute of Museums and Library Services (IMLS), a federal government library and museum service organization

* Innovative Interfaces, Inc. (III), a private library software company

* the Academy of Accounting Historians (AAH), a nonprofit, academic organization that publishes AHJ

Over a five-year period, the disparate interests of these organizations converged at the UML and produced, in September 2005, open, public access to the first 19 volumes (1974-1992) of the digital AHJ. (2) For the UML, AHJ was the first product in its new Digital Accounting Collection (DAC). Digitally publishing the journal was an intensive introduction to the scarcely charted seas of research collections on the Internet.

THE UML ACQUIRES THE AICPA'S LIBRARY

In September 2000, James Davis and Dale Flesher, respectively the dean and associate dean of the University of Mississippi School of Accountancy, approached John Meador, the dean of university libraries, with an audacious proposition. They proposed that the university enter the competition for the enormous accounting library of the AICPA. The AICPA had decided to divest itself of its venerable library, a collection begun in 1918 [Neloms, 1987; Anonymous, 1998]. According to the Institute's CPA Letter, the AICPA was moving "toward providing more services in an electronic environment. Part of the evolution from a paper-based environment to an electronic one includes the relocation of the AICPA library collection" [Anonymous, 2001]. A new home at a major university was needed. A competitive process was established and requests for proposals were sent to major universities with distinguished accountancy programs.

When Dean Davis received an invitation to bid from the AICPA [Rothberg, 2000], he saw a wonderful opportunity to add tens of thousands of items to the university's already large accounting collection. At the library, John Meador was enthusiastic about the prospect of adding a world-class collection to the library's holdings. The two deans approached the University of Mississippi Foundation and Robert Khayat, chancellor of the university. The reception was enthusiastic and the university's resources were pledged to the proposal. The Robert M. Hearin Foundation was persuaded to underwrite some of the expenses of housing and re-cataloguing the collection. A proposal was drafted, "Plan for a National Library of the Accounting Profession: A Proposal to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants" [University of Mississippi, 2000]. The document included plans for maintaining and preserving the collection and for providing the AICPA's membership with continued access and research services. Also mentioned were plans for the digitization of rare items. Chancellor Khayat flew to New York with Dean Meador to present the proposal to the executive board of the AICPA. Representatives of the AICPA Foundation made site visits to each of the competing institutions. …

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