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Richard E. Lucier, University of California, described work directed at developing a "digital library" to serve the entire university system in California. He argued that the conventional library—with its archives of traditional research journals—is evolving toward new forms of scholarly communication. In his view traditional libraries, with the services we have come to expect from them, will not continue to be sustainable. Given the information explosion, they simply cost too much. Costs will be controlled by forming large consortia of libraries to leverage buying power. He proposed that comprehensive access to information will replace comprehensive ownership of information, and that world-class libraries will consist of complementary paper and digital holdings. In addressing possible new approaches to scholarly communication, he pointed out the conflicting goals of the current system, which uses publications both as a means to disseminate knowledge and as a mechanism for evaluating the performance of research scholars. New approaches to electronic publication may allow these to be decoupled. Pursuing new approaches will require examination of current copyright policies and practices such as the assignment of rights to publishers.
Lorrin R. Garson, American Chemical Society, presented an analysis of issues related to the emergence of electronic publishing, using the perspective of a scientific society that is already a major publisher in the print medium. He characterized scientific publishing as a field with high costs, diminishing resources for those purchasing publications, competition among publishers, and increasing pressure to publish more material. He noted that both commercial and not-for-profit publishers must strive to operate on a "not-for-loss" basis. He presented arguments that "first-copy" costs account for approximately 80 percent of all publishing costs, regardless of whether paper or electronic distribution is the final result. Consequently, the financial challenges are unlikely to disappear with a move toward electronic publishing.
Garson identified a range of important problems and challenges associated with electronic publishing, including the need for improvements in technology and funding of that investment, assumption of responsibility and costs for archiving of electronic information, terms for and constraints on use of electronic information, and costs of individual subscriptions. He was optimistic about progress in overcoming the technical barriers but indicated that the financial and sociological obstacles are formidable.