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Electronic Scientific, Technical, and Medical Journal Publishing and its Implications: Proceedings of a Symposium
reference book one year and then bought it on an every other year or every third year basis. If this reference book is purchased electronically, the same price is paid year after year. So it affects the economics of how a library thinks about its collections, not just in terms of the current material, but in terms of how it manages the archive.
Jim O'Donnell added that the retrospective collection has never been free. It costs a lot of money to keep it dry and cool and to reshelve it. Universities spend immense amounts of money on redundant collections. Where off-site shelving is beginning to be done cooperatively among institutions, it certainly provides an alternative opportunity to think about just how much redundancy is worth paying for in terms of the use they get out of it. Universities have to be rational about how much they spend on the print archives—and it is a lot.
His comment reminded Ann Wolpert that that there are different kinds of money in universities. Capital funds are needed to build a building, which is a big one-time effort. Although the cost of the materials that are stored there over the life of the building are amortized, in fact, for the university the economics work differently. Costs in the electronic environment are annual operating costs as opposed to being able to move some of those costs off into a capital budget, and manage them differently.
Ted Shortliffe closed the symposium by thanking the speakers and participants. One of the charges to the steering committee is to take the lessons of the symposium and try to crystallize them, and in particular to ask what are the key potential areas of study that the National Academies might focus on for additional work to help move these issues forward. There are many potential topics for study, and he welcomed advice from symposium participants on which areas the National Academies could make useful contributions in, such as areas that have not been looked at effectively by others perhaps, and where there is a need for further work. On that note, he thanked the National Academies staff for assisting with the symposium and adjourned the meeting.