Electronic Resources and Services in Sci‐tech Libraries

John Akeroyd (Head of Learning and Information Services, London South Bank University, UK)

Program: electronic library and information systems

ISSN: 0033-0337

Article publication date: 1 June 2004




Akeroyd, J. (2004), "Electronic Resources and Services in Sci‐tech Libraries", Program: electronic library and information systems, Vol. 38 No. 2, pp. 144-145. https://doi.org/10.1108/00330330410532841



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

I sometimes feel that all the monographs I receive from the Program Review Editor are, in fact, either concurrently published in other ways, or retrospective amalgamations of journal articles. Such is the case with the above books. They represent the contents of Science and Technology Libraries(Vol. 20, Nos 2/3) and Journal of Library Administration (Vol. 35, Nos 1/2) respectively. I have heard publishers over several years argue that how you deliver content is increasingly irrelevant – it will appear in a multiplicity of formats, suitably edited and reviewed, whether within e‐journal bundles, as author originated e‐archives, or as traditional e‐journals. This is all very well, but from a librarian's perspective it represents increasing levels of bibliographic anarchy. Perhaps the Digital Object Identifier, as described by Mischo in an article on Linking Technologies will solve some of these issues; but, until then, hard‐pressed librarians with fixed budgets are struck with the thought that they are constantly buying essentially the same content several times over. This rankles. Haworth Press have even christened such publications “docu‐serials” and argue, perhaps legitimately, that specialist libraries or individuals may wish to purchase specific thematic issues. But unless you are a very diligent acquisition librarian the likelihood of a mistaken, duplicate purchase is high.

None of this is to detract from the articles in these two monographs. Electronic Resources and Services in Sci‐tech Libraries, in particular, is a good read, ranging from practical (how we do it) papers through reviews of contemporary topics to thoughtful pieces such as Carriveau's interesting, though rather dismissive review, of future trends in scholarly publishing, including open archives. Despite his pessimism he advocates librarians getting involved in e‐print archiving.

Some papers are simply unusual. Good examples are Cole's “Publishing mathematics on the Web”, which, among other things, details the problems involved in Web publishing of mathematical notation and emerging ways of overcoming that; and Hurd et al.'s “Performance measures for electronic journals: user centred approach”, which describes a pilot study to test methodologies for evaluating e‐journals using the Kano model, which defines customer expectations. Other articles of note are “Trends in current awareness services”, which has re‐emerged as an important topic with Web‐based e‐resources, and the aforementioned Mischo's “Library portals, simultaneous search and full text linking technologies”, which describes the emerging technologies of cross‐database searching and linking as aids to information retrieval.

Libraries and Electronic Resources: New Partnerships, New Practices, New Perspectives is a wide ranging text largely concerned with changing patterns of publishing as a consequence of the digital revolution and the libraries’ responses to those changes. This first part of the book is given over to a discussion of various projects addressing the changing nature of scholarly publishing. It is not axiomatic that libraries have any particular role in respect of those changes, except that many of them concern the implementation and continued management of digital repositories capable of supporting a wide range of scholarly publishing, this is the traditional work of librarians – organising, managing and exploiting information resources. If providing the technical infrastructure is critical, so is working with academics and researchers to persuade them of the validity of new forms of scholarly communication, to train them and to provide levels of quality control so as to maintain authority. This is more in the realms of commercial publishing and some of the projects described here have, at the outset, utilised publishing expertise to create these new repositories. The question that is then raised is how successful might they be? There is no great tradition of university presses being financially successful except those of very longstanding global institutions. Perhaps it is more a matter not so much of trying to replicate traditional publishing models, but providing a mechanism for exploiting the knowledge base of the institution through capturing and maintaining its intellectual property. One of the chapters that stood out for me was that by Suleman and Fox, which is as good a description of the Open Archives Initiative as anything I have read.

The final part of the book is a number of shorter papers describing various consortial activities, mainly focusing on collective procurement and licensing of electronic journals. There is a final paper, both a review and speculative, which looks at the role of digital libraries in teaching and learning ‐ a topic that is perhaps slightly outside the scope of the rest of this volume, but still of significant interest.

As with Electronic Resources and Services in Sci‐tech Libraries this text is timely, well written with highly pertinent articles on important topics. Both books are global in their reach and would help anyone seeking an overview of the current agenda facing academic and research libraries worldwide. From that point of view they are a commendable library purchase.

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