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Many services in libraries find their ways to patrons electronically: online catalogs, online circulation systems, automatic book lending/returning systems, electronic document delivery systems and recently also scientific copyrighted journals are electronically available at the desktop of the patron. However, these developments do not only imply better services towards our patrons but also offer potential benefits for libraries. The presence of rich and valuable information obtained by monitoring the use of its electronic services provide library management with another powerful tool with which to keep control over its assets and thus enable it to provide services that are more cost effective and closely match the patrons' needs.
One example of how effective the management of journals in our digital age can become, is being tested in the European project Decomate DElivery of COpyright MATerial to End users). This project, currently being executed under the framework of the Libraries Programme by Tilburg University (NL), the London School of Economics and Political Science (UK) and the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (ES) is a project that aims at the development of an integrated electronic system for searching, browsing and printing scientific and copyrighted journals in a World Wide Web environment. This new system opens the way to electronic journal management by exploring issues relating to technical and copyright questions, and providing he generation of valuable statistics on its use. Production of usage statistics will be particularly valuable in collection management terms, since usage of traditional printed journals has always been notoriously difficult to monitor.
But the Decomate project does also highlight other aspects of journal management. The electronic journals are obtained direct from the publisher and facilities had to be developed to streamline data processing, maintenance and authorisation and authentication. Electronic journals must be stored in the databases while preserving the links with the bibliographical data. And evidently, tools need to be developed to monitor and check deliveries and accounting mechanisms must be built in.
Decomate is a one in its kind project in Europe. This paper describes the Decomate project and its early results in the perspective of journal management. Encountered problems and solutions are discussed and new opportunities and impact on journal management, like the possibility to start joint ventures of libraries to share electronic collections, are addressed.
Paper: not yet available