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eJournal storage (Dan Lester) Marcia Tuttle 16 Jul 1996 13:20 UTC

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 15 Jul 1996 16:25:40 -0600
Subject: eJournal storage (Albert Henderson) -Reply

Date: Fri, 5 Jul 1996 17:19:10 EDT
From: Albert Henderson

In 1992, Association of Research Libraries published projections
indicating that if the present decline in acquisitions continued their
members would purchase no more books and journals by the year 2017. Today
these libraries are a major source for interlibrary loans and document
delivery. What will they be in 20 years?

Oh, Albert, Albert, Albert....this is purest rhetoric and nonsense and you
know it.  I'm sure one as knowledgable and experienced as you is all too
well aware of such fallacies.  This is just like the projections that
"show that by the year [insert favorite year from 1998 to 2003] every
person on earth will have an Internet email address".  Sure, if you take
some rate of growth and keep projecting it at the same rate from some date
you'll get that result.  But, does it make any sense?  Of course it
doesn't.  Will it happen in the next 25 years, if ever?  Of course not.
This is the kind of crap spouted in Sunday Supplement articles or in badly
researched articles in the news magazines (a certain one that was suckered
a year or so ago regarding comes to mind).

Just look at the [implicit] attitude of universities toward their
collections of books and journals. The formerly "free" library has been
called a "bottomless pit" by at least one provost who demanded that
librarians justify their existence.

So?  That was about thirty years ago, if memory serves, and both that
library and its crew of librarians continue on, though the Provost is
undoubtedly retired or dead.  Is the library there doing as well as in the
past?  I remember the library, but don't know the answer.

Digital storage will certainly suffer the same fate. And don't forget the
short life of magnetic media and software. If you think you have
preservation problems now, start checking the oldest floppy disks and
tapes you have been storing. What's on those 1976 Honeywell tapes and
Hollerith cards you have been hanging on to? They're only 20 years old....

I'll hope and trust that any of the stuff in those old formats has since
been copied to more contemporary media.  If not, sure, it is a problem.
But, if it was worth keeping, it should have been done.  Will some people
mess up and fail to do this?  Sure.  But others will weed the wrong books
and journals, too.

I've always been told that Alfred North Whitehead said "You could take
half the books in the British Museum and burn them now and no one would
know the difference from now until the end of time."  Of course the
problem is which half. (and if anyone can give me a proper cite for that
quote, or even contradict it, I'd love to have the proper information
regarding a truism I learned in library school over thirty years ago)


Dan Lester, Network Information Coordinator
Boise State University Library, Boise, Idaho, 83725 USA
voice: 208-385-1235   fax:  208-385-1394     OR
Cyclops' Internet Toolbox:
"How can one fool make another wise?"   Kansas, 1979.