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eJournals, Blessing and Curse

I love electronic access to journal articles. I admit to being a teensy bit annoyed if I have traipse downstairs (one floor down and all of 100 feet over from my desk) to get the hard copy of an article. I’m even more reluctant to ILL articles, though I know how easy it is and how incredibly speedy compared to my past ILL experiences. Point and click is the way to go (as long as it’s not one of those nasty “HTML full text” articles, by which they mean “we’ll give you the text but none of the foreign characters or charts or images that you’ll need to understand the text… oh, and we won’t give you the original pagination either… mwa-ha-ha-ha…”).

And I’m certainly not alone in this. Students seem to have an even more marked preference than I do, and the faculty helped us move to being much more of an e-only library during the biennial serial review we completed last spring. More than half of our budget was spent on a electronic resources last year, and our stats show downloads are up by over 60%. We’ve tipped over that point, folks. And for the most part, there is great rejoicing in the land.

I say “for the most part” because all of a sudden, people are having to deal with an overly complex system of getting to our stuff from off campus. The new faculty were, understandably, confused and rather frustrated. Most of the systems we have in place (LibX, a proxy server, telling Google Scholar about our holdings, etc) work for most of our resources. But that doesn’t mean that things are any easier because these new faculty use Google, we don’t always subscribe through the publisher web site, and yet publishers put tantalizing web sites up for Google to find. The professor finds a great article via Google, clicks on it, and is told to log in or subscribe when, in fact, the library does subscribe, just through another source.

Sure, there are browser extensions that can help with that. We could OpenURL-ify everything under the sun if people would download extensions and remember to log into the proxy server whenever they sit at their computers. But that’s a pain. We mentioned this kind of thing at new faculty orientation and were met with weary stares.

There’s got to be a better way.

p.s. I’ve also talked before about the problem of eJournals when it comes to copyright and ILL (here).

Published inLibraries and LibrariansTools and Technology

One Comment

  1. Stephen Francoeur Stephen Francoeur

    This is an issue that I’d love to see dealt with too. It would be great if all those journal publishers connected in to some sort of universal “Can I get this from my library” lookup service. That way, you or your patrons find this great article on the site of a journal publisher, click the lookup tool (type in the name of your college or the name of your public library) and then some mega-registry (more complete and user-friendly than the WorldCat Registry), get your local library’s login screen, then, ba-da-bing ba-da-boom, access to the article. Getting the publishers to participate in such service though is probably a pipe dream.

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