Harvard Library Works to Maintain Stature in the Shift to Digital

The shift is taking place...from acquisition, to access reports the Globe.

Facing an unprecedented budget crunch, the Harvard University cancelled print copies of more than 1,000 journal titles last year in favor of online subscriptions. And they're is turning toward other universities to collaborate and share acquisitions, all while trying to maintain its libraries’ stature in an increasingly digital world.

“We need to worry less about buying everything, and instead ensure that we have access to these materials,’’ said David Lamberth, a divinity school professor who is overseeing a group tasked with reinventing Harvard’s libraries. “The real issue is giving present and future scholars the ability to find what they need to find.’’

Students can now sit in their dorms and order books directly from their computers to be delivered within 24 hours to the library of their choice from the Harvard Depository, a high-density storage facility where a forklift is required to fetch books from 30-foot shelves. In some cases, students can avoid the library altogether; materials can be downloaded or the library will scan relevant book chapters and e-mail them.

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If their deals are anything like others they're not saving much

Elsevier for example will still charge you 75% of the print cost if you go e-only. So you save 25% but not the full value of the journals which some people assume. That is unless they were very lucky and were at the end of their contract of course.

And it's not like the online versions are cheap either! I bet some management are thinking it is though.

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