University of Delaware
Office of Public Relations
The Messenger
Vol. 5, No. 4/1996
New electronic library resources provide 'just-in-time' document

     Along with an abstract search system, UD's many electronic
library resources include DELCAT, a computerized card catalog
system, and thousands of full-text journals on-line.

     Beginning now and continuing for the next several years,
electronic library resources will allow faster, more reliable and
more expansive document delivery for researchers at the
University of Delaware and elsewhere, Director of Libraries Susan
Brynteson says.
     Already, faculty and students are logging onto the
information superhighway to scan table-of-contents pages and
article abstracts from 7,000 scholarly journals. "We're moving
from a 'just-in-case' library procurement to 'just-in-time'
document delivery," President David P. Roselle explains. "Instead
of subscribing to journals just in case they might be needed, the
new technology enables the delivery of specific journal articles
at the time they are needed."
     Updated weekly, the new Current Contents/TOC (abbreviation
for Table of Contents) system makes it possible to search 200
broad subject categories-from art to zoology, says Gregg A.
Silvis, assistant director for library computing systems.
University of Delaware students, faculty and staff can browse
journals focusing on mathematics, literature, chemistry and other
disciplines from work stations in the Hugh M. Morris Library or
from desktop computers connected to the campus network, Silvis
     Mathematicians, for example, might want to check out the
latest Journal of Algebra to catch up on "units of integral
semigroup rings." Another click summons an abstract or summary of
the article. If not owned by the library, the entire article may
then be ordered via interlibrary loan, at no cost to the
researcher. Thanks to a document-sharing arrangement with other
major research universities, the majority of all journal articles
are delivered via interlibrary loan within three to four days,
according to Sandra Millard, assistant director for library
public services. Beginning Jan. 1, 1997, researchers also will be
able to order articles via computer, using an electronic form.
     Faculty have been provided computers during the past three
years to access the new system, according to Susan J. Foster,
vice president for information technologies. Using Current
Contents/TOC, researchers can search for articles any time of day
or night. In the future, she says, an "automatic notification
service" also might alert faculty to important studies in
selected publications. "This is an exciting change in the way the
library delivers services to researchers," Foster says. "We're
saying, 'You can now "visit" the library 24 hours a day.'"
     Library Networked Databases allow faculty to search
electronically for both scholarly and general journal articles,
Brynteson says. Using desktop computers, they will be able to
browse the table-of-contents pages from thousands of scholarly
journals and request articles for delivery from journals not
owned by the library.
     The great paper chase
     Scholarly journals are notoriously vulnerable to thieves,
page rippers, graffiti vandals and time. Electronic document
delivery systems can help researchers avoid the traditional
scavenger hunt for missing journal articles, which could be off
the shelf or checked out. Electronic resources will always be
available from a desktop computer at home, at the office, in the
classroom or in the library.
     Electronic library systems also promise substantial savings
compared to paper journal subscriptions. For example, the
Louisiana State University library currently pays $13 per
article, or about $50,000 annually, for materials ordered
electronically, says Chuck Hamaker, LSU's assistant dean for
collection development. This compares favorably with the cost of
subscriptions to the journals.
     Annual subscriptions to some journals can amount to several
thousand dollars each. High subscription prices, high annual
price increases for journals and high maintenance costs add up to
a model of "ownership" that is not sustainable for the long term,
says Brynteson.
     At the University of Delaware, $2.85 million-or 62 percent
of the library materials budget-was budgeted for academic
journals in fiscal year
1995-96, compared to 43 percent during fiscal year 1986-87,
according to Craig A. Wilson, assistant director for library
     Provost Mel Schiavelli reports that, except for the College
of Arts and Science, UD's largest college, the library's 5
percent library materials budget increase was the largest on
campus this year. Yet, rising journal prices are rapidly
outpacing the library budget.
     As journal prices keep rising, Roselle says, libraries
across the country are dropping titles. In fact, UD now
subscribes to fewer journals-at greater total cost-than two years
ago. "But," Roselle continues, "it's not good economics to pursue
a long-term strategy of consistently purchasing less for more.
Clearly, a new strategy is required."
     "Because of increasingly high journal prices," Brynteson
says, " many libraries find it necessary to cancel their
subscriptions, often resulting in higher prices the next year to
those who continue to subscribe."
     Fortunately, UD's "robust electronic network" allows
alternative access to scholarly articles, Schiavelli says. "We
could not continue to absorb 10 to 30 percent increases in the
annual cost of serials," he says. "We had to change our ways, and
our electronic resources put us in an excellent position to make
a very positive change."
     Along with the Current Contents/TOC system, UD's many
electronic library resources include DELCAT, a computerized card
catalog system accessible through U-Discover!, the University's
award-winning campus information system. Over 35 library
networked databases put students and researchers in touch with
journal topics ranging from folklore and nursing to political
science. Two journal databases, IAC Expanded Academic Index ASAP
and Business Index ASAP, include thousands of complete and full-
text journal articles on-line and were made available from the
library beginning in September 1996.
     A transition period
     Many faculty are enthusiastic about the changes that
electronic library resources bring--speed, convenience and
expanded access. Some researchers, however, have expressed
concern about the shift toward high-tech document delivery. For
example, Art History Prof. Maurice E. Cope fears that
electronically reproduced artwork may be inferior to works
published in paper journals. Moreover, he says, electronic
databases tend to focus on scientific disciplines, rather than
the humanities.
     "If you're writing about a work of art, you have to see it
quite clearly," says Cope.
     Digital imaging technologies are still evolving, Susan
Foster concedes. But, she adds, "They're getting better every
day. Just think about how far we've come in the last few years."
     Raymond R. Wolters, Thomas Muncy Keith Professor of History,
sympathizes with faculty who love to browse cherished paper
journals. "Some researchers have raised legitimate concerns," he
says. "In the long run, though, it's probably best to move toward
electronic access, for economic reasons."
     Electronic library resources also allow faculty to spend
more time with students, says Howard Garland, the Chaplin Tyler
Professor of Business Administration who serves as department
chairperson. "It's a great time-saver," he adds. "I see this as a
positive step for academic publishing and faculty research."
     Like Cope, faculty at LSU were initially apprehensive about
the quality of images transmitted by facsimile or computer. To
address their concerns, the university offered two potential
solutions, reports Hamaker.
     "First," he says, "we might ask to have the article
transmitted again. Or, we can call a company that scans and
prints articles, which are then sent to us by Express Mail. Image
quality has been a problem for only 2 to 3 percent of the
articles requested by researchers."
     Although existing databases may emphasize scientific
journals, Hamaker says, increased use of electronic resources by
science faculty could ultimately relieve budget pressures on the
humanities and liberal arts faculty.
     Mary P. Richards, dean of UD's College of Arts and Science,
foresees yet another potential benefit of electronic library
resources. Rare literary manuscripts and other primary research
documents-previously available only to scholars-can now be
displayed on the Internet. "We're witnessing a democratization of
scholarly information," she says.
     "Technology is opening up new avenues for students, because
they often can't afford to travel to European libraries, and they
don't have the credentials to inspect rare documents," she says.
"As we make the jump from paper journals to electronic resources,
I suspect we'll move through a transition period, but these
systems are going to help more young people become scholars."
     Brynteson predicts growing use and widespread acceptance of
library networked databases with the expectation that more and
more information will be available electronically in the future,
especially scholarly journal articles. "This is just the
beginning!" she says.
                                           -Ginger Pinholster