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CODE4LIB  July 2007

CODE4LIB July 2007

Subject:

Re: [Web4lib] the journal "presence" in online databases

From:

"K.G. Schneider" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Mon, 16 Jul 2007 16:18:41 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (45 lines)

> Karen,
>
> I suspect one could find a parallel for the loss of the "wholeness" of a
> journal issue" in the world of popular music. Does the "album" as those
> of us of a certain age knew it still exist when most music is acquired
> (I'd like to say purchased, but spend too much time around college-aged
> people to use such a ridiculous word)as single tracks rather than as
> part of a larger whole?

That goes back to Nathan's astute question on Code4Lib. Clearly the modern
music audience has returned to the model of my very early youth: the single.
But from what I am hearing (based on interviews so far with writers and
publishers) the audience (readership) for literary journals expects, well, a
literary journal.

The table-of-contents browsing enabled by some databases for some journals
seems perfectly adequate from a research point of view - if you squint from
a distance. But from both a literary and research perspective, it has some
disturbing limitations: lack of cover art, loss of design (a poem on a page,
for example, presented with a specific font), loss of advertising and
ephemera... even the context and juxtaposition of the content in a print
journal has meaning.

Then there may be another curious problem with the small-journal economy. If
the subscriber base for a journal dries up, then it is likely to go away. So
the action intended to help ensure access to the journal - moving from print
to electronic-may kill it. I still have to do some research into the
economics of journals (a vendor's help here would be useful) so this is more
provisional thinking. This has even greater ramification if you consider
that part of the journal economy (more of an ecology, reall) includes the
writers and artists who contribute its content (often for no more than the
grand sum of a subscription to the journal, if even that).

I think librarians have been trying to do the right thing: the move from
print to electronic is terrifically useful for a great deal of content, and
if you have to choose-and we often do-then electronic access is an
improvement. I wouldn't want to *not* have electronic access to what we
have. But there isn't a 1:1 correlation between a literary journal and its
online indexed articles. It's like replacing a statue on a college green
with a fiche reader and a fiche of pictures of the statue that was there.
You have some of the raw information (though as noted above, definitely not
all of it), but you do not have the thing itself.

Karen G. Schneider
[log in to unmask]

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