Date of this Version
Library Philosophy and Practice 2011
Journals constitute an important part of a library collection being the most important vehicle for global scholarly communication. Tremendous developments in ICT in the recent years have given amazing boost to electronic publishing. As a result the information which is being generated at intense pace from all the directions world wide for all the themes is now being published in form of electronic journals (e-journals). Anyone with access to a computer equipped with a modem and suitable software can produce and distribute an e-journal through a computer network, thus journal publishing is being democratized. Usually, e-journals are published as electronic equivalents of their print counterparts but recently there is an increase in number of scholarly journals which are being published only electronically. As a result, e-journals have emerged as vital components of information resources of a library and play an imperative role in the distribution of prime information. E-journals have been defined in different ways by different authors. An early definition by McMillan (1991) described electronic journals as "any serials produced, published, and distributed via electronic networks such as Bitnet and the Internet." Ashcroft and Langdon (1999) stated that a journal, including indexing and abstracting services, provided by any electronic means, e.g. Internet, CD-ROM is called as e-journal. These journals are generally accessible electronically via web. Subsequently Smith (2003) gave a clear definition of e-journals as “any journal that is available online, including both electronic-only journals and journals that are available both electronically and in print”. E-journal, hence, is a term used to describe a periodical publication that is published in digital form to be displayed on a computer screen.
E-journals are global information highways, so these are being added to library collections at exponential rates. Libraries are doing extensive work to make e-journals available to their users and keeping them abreast with latest developments in their field of interest. E-journals are accessible either free against print subscription or for a nominal charge along with the print subscription. Access to e-journals is generally provided either by the publisher or through their aggregators. E-journals have provided excellent opportunities to access scholarly information, which were previously beyond the reach of libraries due to geographical constraints. E-journals possess many added features for the facilitation of libraries and its user community. These offer concurrent access to the scholarly content for multiple users. So these are boon for a huge campus where there are hundreds of users with many departments. Other features of e-journals include full-text search, multimedia facilities and hypertext links. Text search is much easier and less cumbersome. E-journals also include multimedia and graphics to attract readers. Also the hypertext available in the e-journals will directly link to the areas of greatest interest and results in creative reading. Maxymuk (2004) highlighted that advantages of electronic journals include no physical space required and accessibility from almost any workstation that can be connected remotely to the institution’s network. Thus e-journals can be accessed round the clock across geographical barriers, which make e-journals omnipresent. The most fortunate thing about e-journals is that both libraries and users can conquer the problems of missing issues and delay in receiving the issues. To summarize, it can be clearly said that e-journals are truly a dream come true both for the librarians and users. Consequently libraries are now persuaded to subscribe to e-journals from a vast variety of publishers and providers.