Harvard, Publishers to Form E-Journal Archive

The Harvard University Library and three publishers of scholarly journals - Blackwell Publishing, John Wiley & Sons Inc. and the University of Chicago Press - are working together to develop an experimental archive for e-journals. The preservation and archiving of e-journals - which are increasingly created in digital form and for which, in many cases, no paper forms exist - present unique, long-term challenges to librarians, publishers, and, ultimately, to the scholars and researchers who will seek access to them in the future.

The new joint venture is sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which recently made a $145,000 grant to the Harvard University Library specifically for the planning of an e-journal archive. The grant challenges Harvard and its publishing partners to address a fundamental issue in the digital environment.

Until it is clear that e-journals will be accessible far into the future, scholarly communities are hesitant to fully support the electronic medium for communication and publication. Without electronic archives, libraries and publishers face a difficult choice between bearing dual costs of maintaining the electronic version of journals for convenient current access and the paper version for long-term availability, or the potential loss to future generations of scholarly materials published solely in electronic form.

The yearlong planning effort will explore the issues related to e-journal archiving and develop a plan for a repository at Harvard for e-journal publications. The expected outcome is a proposal for an archive for these journals. Major areas to be studied during the year include: establishing agreements between the partners regarding archival rights and responsibilities; formulating a technical implementation plan; defining methodologies that the archive would adopt to validate its archival processes, and assure the scholarly community that the journals for which the archive is responsible will be preserved and usable over time; and creating organizational and business models. Harvard University Library, Cambridge, MA, (617) 495-3274, http://hul.harvard.edu/ldi.

The Harvard University Library and three publishers of scholarly journals - Blackwell Publishing, John Wiley & Sons Inc. and the University of Chicago Press - are working together to develop an experimental archive for e-journals. The preservation and archiving of e-journals - which are increasingly created in digital form and for which, in many cases, no paper forms exist - present unique, long-term challenges to librarians, publishers, and, ultimately, to the scholars and researchers who will seek access to them in the future.

The new joint venture is sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which recently made a $145,000 grant to the Harvard University Library specifically for the planning of an e-journal archive. The grant challenges Harvard and its publishing partners to address a fundamental issue in the digital environment.

Until it is clear that e-journals will be accessible far into the future, scholarly communities are hesitant to fully support the electronic medium for communication and publication. Without electronic archives, libraries and publishers face a difficult choice between bearing dual costs of maintaining the electronic version of journals for convenient current access and the paper version for long-term availability, or the potential loss to future generations of scholarly materials published solely in electronic form.

The yearlong planning effort will explore the issues related to e-journal archiving and develop a plan for a repository at Harvard for e-journal publications. The expected outcome is a proposal for an archive for these journals. Major areas to be studied during the year include: establishing agreements between the partners regarding archival rights and responsibilities; formulating a technical implementation plan; defining methodologies that the archive would adopt to validate its archival processes, and assure the scholarly community that the journals for which the archive is responsible will be preserved and usable over time; and creating organizational and business models. Harvard University Library, Cambridge, MA, (617) 495-3274, http://hul.harvard.edu/ldi.

This article originally appeared in the 10/01/2001 issue of THE Journal.

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