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JSTOR and the changing digital landscape

Michael Spinella (JSTOR, New York, New York, USA)

Interlending & Document Supply

ISSN: 0264-1615

Article publication date: 30 May 2008




This paper seeks to describe the development and current operation of JSTOR, and to identify in particular the cost benefit of JSTOR in terms of cost per article.


The paper is descriptive. Amidst ongoing and dramatic changes to digital communications, JSTOR serves as a microcosm for observing the trends affecting how researchers, teachers, students and librarians access and use information for scholarly purposes. This paper provides background and reports progress on JSTOR's mission to preserve scholarly works and facilitate broader access to them. It also examines usage patterns over the years of JSTOR's operation to discern shifting expectations of users, and consider the impact of Google indexing on broadening the visibility of content both within the scholarly community and beyond it. Finally, the paper analyzes trends in cost per use experienced by a selection of institutions at the high, median, and low levels of usage, as a means to consider the value of shared digital resources.


JSTOR usage has expanded exponentially. Key drivers have been: continuously increasing the amount of content in the archive; growth in the number of participating institutions; greater breadth of discipline coverage, drawing in more users at participating institutions; and an expanding array of linking partners, including Google. Google indexing has had the further impact of exposing the content to a very much broader audience, creating a new set of opportunities and challenges for the organization.


The paper gives an up‐to‐date description of the development of the first organization to provide a service giving access to complete back runs of digitized journal titles. It also provides metrics for analyzing usage trends and determining value for cost that may help librarians manage the increasingly complex demands on library space and budgets.



Spinella, M. (2008), "JSTOR and the changing digital landscape", Interlending & Document Supply, Vol. 36 No. 2, pp. 79-85.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Authors

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