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Support for Urgent Action to Preserve Scholarly Electronic Journals

Issue Date

The members of the International Coalition of Library Consortia (ICOLC) agree with the authors of the document known as "Urgent Action Needed to Preserve Scholarly Electronic Journals" that the issue of long-term archiving needs to be brought into sharper focus by the library community and its partners in the domain of scholarly communication.  We also believe that preservation strategies must be investigated in the context of most effective access strategies to scholarly information.  Appropriate actions need to be identified, resources gathered, and the actions themselves taken.  As an informal body that brings together leaders and administrators of consortia across the world, ICOLC will consider this a prime topic for its upcoming meetings in 2006.

Preservation of digital information is a critical challenge in our time, one that must be met if we are to continue to be a society with a memory for its own thoughts and deeds.  In the second decade of "Internet life" there are few broadly agreed and reliable strategies for preservation of valuable information over the long term.  Library consortia, working with publishers and other vendors, typically insist on contract language that assures electronic access in perpetuity.  However, we know as we sign those agreements that our partners cannot really assure us that they can deliver what they promise, nor have we the capacity to take the steps necessary to assure success ourselves.  ICOLC anticipates that in 2006 we will develop and issue specific recommendations for library consortia to address the general concerns raised in the document.  These recommendations may include information as to how consortia can help their member libraries to:  (1) raise awareness of this issue within the parent institutions; (2) identify risk factors if no action is taken; (3) work with publishers to create meaningful archives; and (4) consider shared library solutions for archives and access.

Full text of the document:  <;

Authors of the document:  The document was written by a team led by Donald J. Waters of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, but embracing a broadly representative group who gathered in New York on September 13, 2005.


The International Coalition of Library Consortia (ICOLC) is an informal, self-organized group currently comprising approximately 200 library consortia in North and South America, Europe, Australia, Asia, and Africa. The member consortia serve all types and sizes of libraries. ICOLC has been in existence since 1996.

ICOLC supports participating consortia by facilitating discussion on issues of common interest. Twice per year ICOLC conducts meetings dedicated to keeping participating consortia informed about new electronic information resources, pricing practices of electronic information providers and vendors, and other issues of importance to directors, governing boards, and libaries of consortia. From time to time ICOLC also issues statements regarding topics which affect libraries and library consortia.