The following is the text of a letter sent by Jerome Yavarkovsky, University Librarian, to Boston College deans, department chairs, and library liaisons on 1 March, 2007.
I am writing to let you know about two important decisions regarding the Boston College Libraries’ journal collections. The decisions reflect the sea change in the academic and publishing worlds caused by the rise of electronic publishing and the World Wide Web as its major channel of distribution. Electronic publishing has more than just taken its place alongside print; it has revolutionized scholarly communication itself.
Like many major research libraries in North America, the Libraries of Boston College are assessing the changing needs of library users and how library collections and resources can meet those needs. Two recent campus-wide surveys were conducted by BC librarians using survey instruments made available by the Association of Research Libraries, and the results indicated a growing demand for electronic journals. In order to meet that demand, we have gained access to over 20,000 e-journals, but the demand continues to grow.
Again, like many major research libraries, the BC Libraries have reached a tipping point with regard to the future development of BC’s journal collections. Based on information provided to me by the Library staff, I have instructed the bibliographers to make the electronic format the only format received by the BC Libraries for as many currently subscribed titles as possible. By canceling print subscriptions in favor of acceptable electronic versions—and using rigorously defined criteria to define what is acceptable—we will be able to reduce the duplication of information between the print and electronic journal formats and enable the BC Libraries to achieve their goal of acquiring as much unique information as possible.
The second decision involves the largest scientific, technical and medical research journal publisher, Elsevier. Based on data provided by faculty and other sources and analyzed by BC librarians over the past year and a half, the decision has been made to cease subscribing to the ScienceDirect e-journal package in 2008. We will continue subscriptions to core ScienceDirect titles and provide immediate access to other ScienceDirect titles on an as-needed basis. A considerable amount of research and discussion by BC librarians went into their conclusion that leaving the deal will greatly enhance the ability of the library collections to meet user needs in coming years.