122.2 WILLING THE FUTURE, Bernard Naylor
122.3 PAPER TO ONLINE, Judith Hopkins
Marcia Tuttle, firstname.lastname@example.org.
As long as I inadvertently sent all 1800 of you a message telling you I was in South Africa, I might as well take the opportunity to say something about the trip. I had the pleasure of making three formal presentations (to a plenary session of the South African Institute of Library and Information Science, to the South African Serials Interest Group of SAILIS, and to the Western Cape branch of SASIG) and of meeting with librarians at five uni- versity libraries, a special library, and one of the national libraries -- as well as visiting Kruger National Park and tourist attractions in the Western Cape. I had been worried that what I was to say might not be rele- vant to South African librarians, but on my very first visit, to the Seri- als Department at University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, both those librarians and I were amazed to learn that our concerns were the same: prices, document delivery, cooperation, doing more with less, dealing with less than perfect online systems. Formal discussion or informal con- versation, we were "all on the same page," as the athletes say. There are differences. The Rand is not very healthy right now, and, to make things worse, South African libraries must import a much higher percentage of their journals than libraries in the United States. The country has a dif- ficult task ahead in educating all of its people. I heard a lot about gold, diamonds, platinum, and oil, but to my mind, South Africa's greatest re- source is its people. The persons I met are wholly supportive of the new government and its objectives, and they are working very hard to ensure the success of the "New South Africa." They are aware of the country's many problems, but they are determined to bring about startling change, change that has already begun. I assumed this would be a once in a lifetime visit; now I will plan to go back. When I returned to my computer, I found three contributions on the same theme: the shift from paper to electronic publication. Two are in this issue, and the third is in the next issue, which should follow immediately. We'll catch up on other things in no. 124.122.2 WILLING THE FUTURE: THE TWENTY PERCENT GAME
Bernard Naylor, University of Southampton, email@example.com.
To what extent can people's expectations determine the future shape of things? This is one of the questions underlying an exercise I recently carried out in my role as Chair of the Advisory Committee on Scholarly Communications of the UK Standing Conference of National and University Libraries (SCONUL). I am very conscious of the great uncertainty about the future which most people in the journals business feel. But I wondered whether I might find a broad level of agreement as to the pace at which events are likely to unfold. There are about one hundred university libraries in full SCONUL membership, and over the summer I put the following question to them: Given the disproportionate increase in the cost of printed journals, and the impact of information technology, and given any other factor you think may be relevant, by what date do you think that the number of print-on- paper journals currently received by your library will have declined to twenty per cent of the present number? The question carried the assumption that some journals will continue to be supplied as print on paper for ever -- in practical terms as far as we mortals are concerned. The question being asked was: how soon, do you think, will "time up" be called on the remainder? Every library has a good reason for its own answer. For example those li- braries which are heavily biased towards science and technology, where both the problem and the opportunity are greatest, would naturally tend to pre- dict an earlier date, and the libraries strong in humanities a later one. So I expected to receive a variety of answers. I closed the book when I had received 58 replies. The best way to give the outcome is in date bands - which go as follows: 1995-2000 8 2001-2005 7 2006-2010 18 2011-2015 8 2016-2020 7 2021-2025 2 2026-2030 1 2031-2040 0 2041-2045 2 2046-2050 3 >2050 2 As you can see, the period 2006-2010 is strongly favoured, and if you add the two immediately preceding periods, you have already accounted for more than half the respondents. There is a flavour of consensus to this, consid- ering how far ahead we are looking. It is interesting to reflect on these predictions in the light of statis- tics of current journals holdings. For example, I predicted 2010 -- before I saw the other predictions. This means the University of Southampton Li- brary, which currently takes 6,000-6,500 titles will have to shed at least 300 printed titles a year, every year between now and 2010. We are certain- ly not shedding at that rate right now. Not surprisingly, we must all ex- pect that there will be a "cancellations curve" which will probably start to rise significantly more steeply early in the next century, if these predictions are to come true. One thing we shall probably find is that titles will not waste evenly across the board, or even evenly in a broad subject area such as "science" or "medicine." Some subjects (e.g. high energy and theoretical physics and certain areas of the life sciences) seem to be exploring options more rap- idly than others. We may therefore suddenly find ourselves with a viable option for electronic access in one subject which will lead to huge cancel- lations of print very rapidly in that particular subject area. Another interesting question is: are librarians to be Leninists or Trotsky- ists? As I understand it, Leninists say: "Since history tells us that it is bound to happen, we must await the inevitable but be prepared to adapt to it." Trotskyists, on the other hand, say: "Since history tells us that it is bound to happen, we must do all we can to hasten the inevitable." It would be interesting to me to know how such an exercise would turn out, if the same question were put to the Directors of libraries in membership of the ARL. Of course, the outcome of the SCONUL response may already be tending to skew the result. Still, if we had a situation where the vast majority of library directors in the UK and the US were of common mind on this matter, it might divert our energies from speculation to organisation. As I hinted at the beginning, if we're most of us convinced about the time scale in which it is likely to happen, that could be quite a powerful im- petus in itself towards making it happen.122.3 PAPER TO ONLINE: NECESSARY PREPARATION
Judith Hopkins, State University of New York at Buffalo, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Report of a talk by Professor Michael J. O'Donnell of the Department of Computer Science, University of Chicago, Managing Editor of the _Chicago Journal of Theoretical Computer Science_. Sponsored by the Dept. of Computer Science University at Buffalo Friday, 7 October 1994, 3:00 - 4:15 pm. The announcement for this lecture said that the focus of his lecture would be on the inevitability that most scholarly publications will divert from printed paper to online formats, and the necessary preparations that must be done to accommodate this change. The Chicago Journal... will have conventional peer review, will be pub- lished by the MIT Press (which has promised to archive it "in perpetuity"), will be issued in LATEX format which is already the format primarily used by authors in the fields of theoretical computer science and mathematics, will be marketed to libraries at a price ($125.00) that is cheaper than the equivalent printed journal, will allow subscribers to copy, print, and otherwise integrate its articles into local databases, and will be distrib- uted by FTP, Gopher, WAIS, and WWW. No issues have yet been distributed. Perhaps the primary issue that a would-be publisher of an electronic jour- nal has to decide is what is the right format in which to save definitive copies of articles. Related to that is How should scholars communicate? And how can the publisher/editor make it happen? As he pointed out one is torn between the Scylla of the ideal and the Charybidis of current realities. His guideline: "Think ideally and operate opportunistically." What are the values of journal publications? 1. Certification as a significant contribution. 2. Standardization for discussion and citation. 3. Distribution to current readers [Dist. in space] 4. Archiving for future readers [Distribution in time] 5. Attention as a critical resource. The actors in the scholarly publications enterprise are: 1. The author who writes the text. 2. The editor who judges quality and relevance. 3. The publisher who announces and makes available. 4. The archivist [library] who/which preserves. 5. The readers who read, use, and cite the publication. The electronic environment is moving the publisher and archivist roles closer together. In some cases the publisher may be the archivist. Journal articles are text; but what is text? A computer scientist might define text as a data structure. Structure is not something that is inher- ent in a text but consists rather in the manipulations that can be per- formed on the text to indicate the internal relationships within it. Professor O'Donnell went on to describe types of data structures for textu- al formats in a continuum of abstraction. 1. Geometric. * Expressed as Bitmap, or Pixel images * Deals with Dots and Coordinates. The Cornell Project is taking this approach. 2. Typographic * PostScript, DVI, MacWrite, TeX, TROFF * Characters, Fonts, Point sizes, Lines, Pages 3. Sequential (its purpose is to present characters) * ASCII, Character sets * Characters, Cases, Control characters 4. Structural * None yet, but LaTeX, AmSTEX, SGML come close * Sections, Paragraphs, Titles, Sentences, Words The Chicago Journal is taking this approach 5. Semantic; or, Artificial Intelligence * Knowledge bases, Semantic Nets * Concepts, Objects, Predicates With the Chicago Journal he is focussing on providing textual data; NOT on providing a specific interface to the journal (which is the approach OCLC is taking with the _Online Journal of Clinical Trials_ and its other online journals). Instead he is cooperating with those who specialize in interfac- es. In conclusion he touched briefly on how network publications might be fi- nanced. Having dismissed the tollroad analogy as unworkable he noted that many such operations are done on a shoestring (e.g., Psycoloquy). The dis- advantage of this approach is that it provides few opportunities to try different approaches to determine which might be best. The archiving func- tion tends to be rather weak under this approach, he held. Grant support is another possibility but rather rare. The Chicago Journal is therefore depending on subscriptions, from both libraries ($125.00) and individuals ($30.00). Most of the questions and comments came from the computer science members of the audience and were technical in nature. Only at the end were some library concerns raised: e.g., permanency of archiving, authenticity of texts. He expressed the hope that libraries would acquire the Chicago Jour- nal, catalog it, and make it available locally in any one of a variety of ways.
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