Love Those LiveLinks
By Marydee Ojala
Editor • ONLINE
The fee/free debate shows no signs of abating. In recent months, some radical changes in digital content financial models have surfaced—with the NYTimes.com last August moving its Times Select to the free world from behind its fee-based curtain; Elsevier announcing OncologySTAT, an ad-supported portal for scientists; and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. vacillating on whether to make wsj.com fee or free. Reed Elsevier put its trade press unit up for sale, worried about the cyclical nature of advertising. Haworth Press, acquired by Taylor & Francis, suddenly wants extra money for the online segment of its journals, previously bundled with the print product. (For Péter Jacsó’s views on Haworth Press, see Péter’s Picks & Pans). The Financial Times changed its terms of service for corporations, requiring a direct license to access the content through third parties, while offering free ft.com to students via Facebook. Wired editor Chris Anderson’s cover story in the March 2008 issue was titled, “Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business.”
Libraries face rising costs for premium content products and shrinking budgets. Does even Chris Anderson really think that university and public libraries will see their books and databases magically appear with no price tag appended? That will probably happen about the same time the library stops charging for photocopies and printing.
Librarians love free stuff. So do the people who use libraries. When ONLINE began publishing in 1976, the concept of free electronic information didn’t exist. Not until the mid-1980s was electronic full text a reality—and we still paid for most of it. Libraries that subscribe to third-party aggregators, such as Dialog, EBSCO, Factiva, LexisNexis, and ProQuest, have most ONLINE articles available to them as part of the subscription. Although information professionals realize there is a cost for these services, most end users perceive the material as “free.”
With this issue, to augment the free HTML versions of a few selected articles, we’re adding a new, free service to the magazine’s website (www.onlinemag.net). Called LiveLinks, it is a list of URLs mentioned in selected articles. At the onlinemag.net site, click on the LiveLinks icon to see the list and to click through to those websites. You might want to add some to your Favorites list or your Bookmarks folder.
Not every article will have LiveLinks because not every article concentrates on resources. Some discuss technological developments, management processes, design details, or information policy. In this issue, for example, Erik Arnold’s piece on cloud computing, Bill Badke’s on information literacy and faculty, and Darlene Fichter and Jeff Wisniewski’s on wikis do not lend themselves well to LiveLinks. Greg Notess’ column explains techniques of searching in other languages. It doesn’t dwell on specific resources. Svetla Baykoucheva’s interview with Richard Kidd contains only one URL, that of Kidd’s employer, the Royal Society of Chemistry.
Resource-rich articles in this issue are Cynthia Padilla’s on e-government websites, Roberta Brody’s on finding expert sources, and the Dollar Sign column on real estate research. These three articles will have LiveLinks enabled. I hope you like this new aspect of the magazine. Please direct any comments or suggestions to me at email@example.com.
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