Scholarly Communications Project: Publishers and Libraries

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Association of Research Libraries


When the Scholarly Communications Project was getting underway in 1989, the founding director, Lon Savage, envisioned a pioneering effort: exploration of new means of scholarly communications and ways to reduce costly distribution of print publications normally done through commercial publishers. Paul Gherman, University Librarian at Virginia Tech when the Project began, felt strongly that such a project belonged in the library; that it would be an opportunity for library staff to get involved in a new publishing medium that increasingly would be integral to the library's mission. Thus, the Project director, who often refers to himself as "an old newspaper man" and who is not a librarian, was very concerned about publishers' interests, while the librarian looked at electronic publishing as a way for libraries to use new technology to keep their services meeting the current information needs of their patrons.

Since the Scholarly Communications Project moved into the library in 1991, the founding director has retired, leaving a flourishing enterprise. The first electronic-only journal has been joined by four print-also journals, abstracts for two additional journals, two research databases, two experimental digital image collections, an experiment in providing access to television news, a regional newspaper, and the university faculty/ staff newspaper. Thus, the activities of the Project have placed the library directly into the information provider's role, improving the level of services the library offers...