No one wants old magazines, but what about academic journals?
May 20, 2021 10:25 AM   Subscribe

Or, Do Academic Libraries Care About Holes In Their Collection? A couple of times now I have found journals and periodicals that don’t show up in EBSCOHost, WorldCat, etc. What I’ve had to do is save a search on eBay and snap up any original printings. I just now paid $50 (and nearly as much in shipping) to get a year’s run of an economics journal from 1991. What am I supposed to do with that?

I guess I have two questions: 1) is there a better way? I’m not an academic so it’s possible I don’t have access to the institutional copy, but they remain beyond the reach of search engines. I hate buying non-searchable, bulky, dead-tree copies. Am I simply not looking hard enough? 2) What do I do with the printed stuff after I have read it? Who would accept it and hopefully digitize it?
posted by Monochrome to Education (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Academic libraries usually do not take partial runs of journals like this one, it's just not how they operate and I don't think anyone is buying/accepting print journals now in the US (possibly elsewhere but that's outside my experience). But! if they are old enough sometimes you can get them to the Archive Team (they are not the Internet Archive but works decently closely with them) who enjoys scanning/digitizing old magazines but I'm not sure how they decide what to take on or what their timeframes. Might be worth checking to see if your content isn't already up on the Internet Archive site somewhere.
posted by jessamyn at 10:49 AM on May 20, 2021 [7 favorites]

As an academic, what I would do if I needed an article from a journal that wasn't available digitally is request the article via interlibrary loan--some library somewhere would have a print copy, and someone there would digitize it for me and I'd get a PDF by email. I'm not sure exactly what your use case is or if you are in need of whole issues/years of issues, but if you're looking for specific articles, you may be able to get those through interlibrary loan on a one-off basis. That would of course depend on what kind of library access you do have.

If you happen to know an individual academic working in the field where you're collecting these old issues, they might be interested in having the print copies, but my suspicion is they'd be more likely to collect dust in an office than to get digitized.
posted by dizziest at 11:42 AM on May 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

Most academic libraries do have journals digitized (the publishers sell these as backfiles: buy access to 1970-1979 online in perpetuity for one fee right now). so yes, people affiliated with the schools have access through other means, but these are copyrighted materials so are likely not easily findable online. I fully believe they are available through grey means- check the archive as jessamyn said , or look for non- US websites as these are harder to get taken down. Most public universities in the US sign agreements with publishers to allow public walk in access: walk in to my library, use one of our computers, and download as many licensed articles as you want from about 90% of our online holdings. This is closed because COVID but we will reopen when we can, so look to your local Univ or college for this access.

As for gifts, my library stopped accepting print gifts about a decade ago, unless it is real unique or rare (my professional opinion: Rare means “fewer than 10 in the whole world.” Unique means “it is not digitized anywhere, whether for a fee or free.” Almost any journal published in English between 1960-2010 does not meet either definition.) Print materials cost more to store/manage/keep track of/repair than they do to buy, so they are gifts like how you might feel if someone gifted you a horse: now you have to scrape up $100 a month, and build a barn, and brush it, and feed it, and remember to make vet appointments, and etc and etc for the next 20 years.

As for giving away and getting digitized: these items are copyrighted by the owner, no one can digitize them and make them available without incurring legal issues (again, in the US). There are some groups that send books to developing countries but I don’t know of any that accept journals.
posted by holyrood at 11:48 AM on May 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: what I would do if I needed an article from a journal that wasn't available digitally is request the article via interlibrary loan

Each time I have used ILL the librarian has told me "send me the link in WorldCat and we will request it" but I often cannot find articles (and sometimes not even the journal itself) in WorldCat.
posted by Monochrome at 12:14 PM on May 20, 2021 [2 favorites]

Some university libraries sell access or membership. If you haven't checked with the universities in your area, it may be worth a try.

I don't know how good scihub (academic research piracy site) is with esoteric stuff, but also worth trying.
posted by trig at 12:22 PM on May 20, 2021

Coming from an academic librarian perspective, in general for ILL for a journal article, I would expect you to give me the information for the article rather than a catalog listing for a whole journal. You would fill out a form something like this - that's not from my former library but that's the basic idea. Although, FWIW, in most cases I (the ILL processor) would then take your request and try to find the journal in WorldCat.

If your local library doesn't offer a service something like this, is there a state or regional library you could make requests from? Like, I live in Massachusetts and I know I can make requests like this from the Boston Public Library (I mean, I'm not sure if they are doing it right now because of pandemic stuff, but it's a service they generally offer).

Most libraries I know are trying to get rid of print journals rather than acquiring them - it's hard to justify the shelf space for stuff that may literally never get looked at again unless it's extremely rare (and relevant to the library's collection), and even then I think it can be kind of a grudging thing, like, "Ugh, how did we get stuck being the last library that holds the 1960-1973 volumes of the Norwegian Journal of Biomusicology?"
posted by mskyle at 12:58 PM on May 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

sometimes not even the journal itself

OCLC, who runs Worldcat, has their own ILL service that they build on top of that general framework. If you can't find a US journal in Worldcat, it may be because the thing has a different name or you're not looking for it the right way? Sometimes you can use the Library of Congress (which has a better search) to make sure you are finding the right name for a periodical or journal. If you're library is willing to ILL these things for you, then it seems like the next step is just to make sure you're getting them the information they need in a format they can use and you can go from there.
posted by jessamyn at 1:14 PM on May 20, 2021 [1 favorite]'s free account registration has expanded access during the pandemic: To support researchers during this challenging time in which many are unable to get to physical libraries, we have expanded our free read-online access to 100 articles per month. About JSTOR.

You’re a Researcher Without a Library: What Do You Do? (Jake Orlowitz at Medium, Nov. 15, 2017) Investigating solutions for frustrated scholars, nonprofits, independent learners, and the rest of us. Lots of hacks; for your first question, look under "Aggregated Subscriptions": Nobody these days buys hundreds of individual journals. They buy collections (or even packages of collections called bundles or “big deals”). However, those buyers are often part of a rather large institution. What do you do if you don’t have the time to negotiate deals, the funds to purchase hundreds of collections, or the clout to receive access as an individual? You can hit up the aggregators.

Is there an affordable way for non-students to subscribe to multi-journals/archives? / Ten Ways To Get Hold Of Academic Literature
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:47 PM on May 20, 2021 [5 favorites]

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