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Re: Cost of the Journal of Molecular Structure & others Simone JEROME 13 Dec 1999 16:51 UTC

A 08:52 13/12/99 -0500, Albert Henderson a �crit :

>pm Fri, 10 Dec 1999  Dan Kniesner <kniesner@OHSU.EDU> wrote:
>> Albert Henderson wrote, in part, regarding Harold Varmus and his proposal
>> for E-Biomed at NIH:
>> >Perhaps E-Biomed fulfilled some dark campaign promise. It didn't fly of
>> course. What's left is a runtish shadow of the utopian dream he offered.
>> I cannot agree that E-Biomed is dead or that it is or was a utopian dream.
>> Instead, E-Biomed is what we really need.
>> Librarians in health sciences libraries who I've talked with were excited
>> by and supportive of E-Biomed.  It is a breakthrough concept: linking the
>> Pubmed citation database to full-text publications on servers and with a
>> guarantee of archiving, all on a very large scale.  Only OCLC has been
>> bold enough to offer a similar arrangement (its New FirstSearch).  The
>> private sector in publishing has been comparatively timid and ineffective
>> -- especially on the subject of archiving, which is of utmost importance
>>  to us librarians.
>In contrast I believe that E-Biomed represented a major threat
>to libraries, librarians, librarianship, and the professional
>information scientists who produce disciplinary database
>services such as Medline, Biosis, Agricola, etc. I urge you
>to look at the historical trend: downsizing for financial
>gain and at the expense of the priority of knowledge. The
>aim of administrators seems to shift dissemination spending
>to various sorts of technology and eliminate the labor
>and overhead of libraries and classrooms.

Again, Mr Henderson, I cannot agree. PubMed Central is no threat
for libraries and librarians, only for librarians who are
so old-fashioned as to conceive their job as the mere accumulation
of paper. Active librarians are now more useful than ever. In the future,
they will be more engaged in education activities. Information
retrieval will be their most important mission with the accumulation
of materials and sources, some of which are pure commercial
stuff with very low scientific contents. It is most important
that young students and scientists are able to distinguish
between scientific information and commercial propanganda.

>E-Biomed had the seductive attraction of being offered for
>"free," as in "free lunch." There is no such thing as "free."
>Like photocopying,

Not at all, Mr Henderson. I did the first steps of my PhD
when no copier was available and I remember what relief
it was to know of the existence of one at our law library.
At that time, there were few commercial journals but they
flourished when copiers were available and served the dissemination
of knowledge. That's a dogma to say that copiers are killing
the scientific periodicals industry but I should be glad to
see figures. It does not match what I actually know.

> which justified the decimation of major
>library collections, the stunting of library growth and a
>consequent closing of at least one famous library school, the
>supposed boon would eventually backfire. Universities cut
>library growth at the end of the 1960s based on the
>proliferation of photocopy machines and the blossoming of "fair
>use" to protect photocopy production in libraries. It was no
>accident that the emphasis on dissemination by the National
>Science and Technology Policy Act of 1976 was ignored and that
>the NSF shut down its investigations into science communications
>about the same time. The investigations of the Register of
>Copyrights turned up some abuses of photocopying as substitutes
>for subscriptions. They failed to note the slowing of library
>growth observed by an NSF study prepared by B. Fry and
>H.S. White.
>- E-Biomed would justify further cancellation of subscriptions,
>including database services, and the elimination of many library jobs.

No need of PubMed Central to reach that goal. Some frightening
increases in prices are sufficient to drive us to the wall.

>- E-Biomed's automated indexing would fail to classify content and
>to insert generic terms for jargon, thereby causing searchers to
>miss essential information.

True, that's why education is essential and librarians are trained
to do it.

>In additon to equating information communications with formal
>publication based on peer review, E-Biomed would have had a
>disasterous economic impact by adding to university financial
>managers' sense that dissemination takes care of itself. As
>you probably know in your daily work, dissemination does not
>take care of itself. It requires the attention of human brains
>like yours and mine.

Thank you to recognize that librarians have brains.

>E-Biomed had no budget to speak of and no plan for technology.
>It was nothing but 'vaporware:' Just ideas that even its most
>fervent advocates felt needed revising.

You know what Pierre de Coubertin said : 'Point n'est besoin d'esp�rer
pour entreprendre, ni de r�ussir pour pers�v�rer'.

>The E-Biomed promise of archiving was simply carefree talk.
>'Archiving' has been the province of libraries more than
>publishers. I was among the first editors in the 1960s

I am also a '1960s' librarian but since I discovered the
Web in 1995 (sorry, I was late), my life and opinions are no
longer the same. Change your mind, Mr Henderson, the world is
changing around you and you still live in the past.

>to demand neutral pH paper, based on an initiative of the Council
>on Library Resources. I also investigated the three microfilm
>technologies and made recommendations to my publishers to
>choose the most stable. Digital technology has little to offer,
>at this time, that can be proven as archival as paper or microfilm.
>Anything on the market will probably be obsolete in less than a
>decade. That is simply the state of the art, not the fault of
>Thanks for your comment. Best wishes,

Here they are. Please excuse if my thoughts are written in poor
English. I am french-speaking.

Simone JEROME, Librarian
University of Liege
Institute of chemistry B6
4000 Sart Tilman (Liege 1)

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