Computers in Libraries
Vol. 21, No. 5 May 2001 

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It's All on the Web, Isn't It?
by Kathy Dempsey 

The wired world is all caught up in electronic publishing, in its many forms. Regular people can post stuff on the Web. Scholars can get their work published on the Internet so it's disseminated more quickly. There are scads of scanning projects that are making old information digital. Dot-coms are building portals and trying to capture some market share of the surfing public. 

Of course this is affecting libraries too, in many of the same ways. You're publishing on the Web, digitizing documents, and building portals and customized sites like everyone else. But you're also dealing with the deeper electronic publishing issues like copyright, archiving, e-books, and training. Oh, and you're trying to organize it all too.

With all these challenges, what state are libraries in today? Well, that's what this issue is all about. As usual, our articles run the gamut. First, our cover story is a good hard look at whether we should be digitizing at all. We have an Oxford scholar asking the question, "Digitization: Is It Worth It?" (p. 28). The time it takes to read this article is worth it.

OK, so once all the content is digitized and available, what are the best ways to go about building your collections? Jonathan Lord and Bart Ragon cover that question by telling the stories of how two different libraries handled the task. There are some good points and tips in this one, as well as a handy "electronic resource evaluation checklist" (p. 43) that you might want to use in your own work. 

Finally, once you have the collections in place, you have to maintain them and keep on paying for them. Doesn't it seem like these journals are trying to take more of your money all the time? Jeff Slagell feels your pain as he likens electronic library resources to bandits (p. 34). 

And we have an extra treat this month, too--an Industry Report about the trend of migrating from print to electronic journals. W. W. Hagerty Library at Drexel University has made the change and lived to tell the tale. This story is a good example of what's happening all over the country today. You'll find the interview starting on page 22. 

As always, our columnists have come through with some top-notch commentary. Péter Jacsó points you to lots of great sites where librarians are being published. Janet Balas questions whether e-books really work for patrons. And Scott Brandt asks the important question, How can we help educators join our quest to get students to use the right stuff on the Internet? He's put together a great page of explanations and tips, and we've made it suitable for photocopying. You may want to distribute this to anyone who assigns library work to students. 

This ought to be enough to keep you busy until next month, when we'll concentrate on legal issues. Prepare yourselves! 

Kathy Dempsey, Editor

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