Collection Analysis and Investment
Calibrating the Library Collection: JSTOR
The VCU campus community has enthusiastically embraced JSTOR (signifying “journal storage”) as a trusted collection. It is typical for libraries that have outgrown their space to quickly settle on JSTOR as an acceptable alternative to print.
- JSTOR digitizes every issue from cover to cover, beginning with the first volume. The VCU Libraries is committed to pay the small annual access fee that covers the ongoing costs of maintaining the collections.
- JSTOR uses a high-quality digitization process to convert their journals from print. Their electronic files and metadata are in formats that can be readily converted to newer formats as they are developed in the future.
- JSTOR is a non-profit organization that has been certified as a trusted digital repository by the Center for Research Libraries. This audit confirms that the repository is meeting best practices for the preservation of digital content.
- Multiple geographically dispersed data centers guarantee the security of the electronic content. Its digital content is also harvested into the trusted Portico service.
- JSTOR works with institutions knowledgeable in the preservation of paper to store multiple copies of the original print publications underlying the archives so that they are available for re-digitization or for other unanticipated needs. There are two climate-controlled paper repositories of JSTOR journals at California Digital Library and Harvard. At both locations, each issue of each journal is page-verified for completeness and efforts are ongoing to complete holdings. Content is also being stored at many regional repositories. In addition, the Center for Research Libraries has a continuing project to archive JSTOR volumes.
- JSTOR has a process for selecting a third-party steward in the event that JSTOR should cease operations.
Will VCU Libraries withdraw all JSTOR titles?
No. At this time, we have identified as candidates for withdrawal only those titles that are adequately preserved both digitally and in print and that contain images acceptable for web viewing. We have used the ”What to Withdraw Print Collections Decision-Support Tool” developed by Ithaka S+R to identify likely candidates based on preservation status and image-to-page ratio. Every title on our list of withdrawal candidates meets the following criteria:
- Both page-verified print repositories, Harvard and UC archives, must have over 95% of the total number of issues.
- Journals with an average of more than one picture per twenty pages are examined by a librarian for quality and usefulness of the print versus the electronic version before a withdrawal decision is made.
How can we be sure that we will always have access to the electronic archive of JSTOR titles?
JSTOR is a collaborative preservation project by libraries and the Mellon Foundation. All participating libraries contribute funds through archive fees for preservation of the digital record. JSTOR is considered the most stable of any electronic archive.
What will happen to VCU’s current subscriptions to JSTOR journals?
The withdrawal plan does not affect current subscriptions or issues that are not yet available in JSTOR. We no longer subscribe to most print versions if we have access to a suitable digital format. In some cases, publishers require us to receive both a print and digital version of a journal. We have already ceased binding those print issues. They are regularly being withdrawn on set schedules. Careful attention is being paid to ensure that withdrawn titles held in JSTOR will not result in loss of content.
What will the library do with the withdrawn journals?
JSTOR has requested nearly 1,000 of our print volumes. Some of these volumes will be used to digitize titles that are not yet complete. These and the remainder of the VCU volumes JSTOR has requested will go into their repositories as additional assurance for long-term archiving. Volumes not needed by JSTOR will be recycled.
What other libraries have withdrawn JSTOR journals?
The list of libraries that have used JSTOR to withdraw print volumes is growing as scholars turn more and more to digital sources and as libraries run out of space. Among those libraries that have taken this path can be counted Kansas State University, Ohio State University, San Diego State University, Texas State University, University of California - Irvine, University of Vermont, and Virginia Tech. Harvard, which maintains one of JSTOR’s print repositories not open to use, has also withdrawn some of its titles from its collections.