We are always getting questions about why some journals are available online and some are not. Some of the comments from a recent library survey requested that we get “…..all journals online” or “….access to even more PDF journal articles.” We love that you use the many journals we get electronically and we have been deliberately moving to include online access for most of our journals. Unfortunately, there are a number of factors that can inhibit a journal being available online.

Believe it or not, some journals are not published in electronic format at all. While this is happening less and less, we still run into journals that are available in print only. If a publisher does not produce an online version, then there is no way we can provide it online.

Sometimes publishers do not provide online subscriptions to libraries (also known as “institutional subscriptions”). Usually this is the case with the more popular weekly magazines rather than scholarly journals. The New Yorker is a good example of a magazine that does not have an online model for institutional subscribers. As an individual you can subscribe; unfortunately, they just don’t have a model that works for a library.

Sometimes we don’t have access to the years of a journal available online that you want. Guess what? As shocking as it may seem, if we want the digitized back files of a journal we actually have to pay for them – even if we had been subscribers to that journal from volume 1 number 1. Given that any library only has a limited amount of money each year to spend, we try to balance buying the back files of journals we already have in print vs. buying new content.

Over the past 6 years we have bought many, many back files and we continue to. For example this past year we acquired back issues of the AGU (American Geophysical Union) journals and a number of Wiley journals, such as Bioethics, and the Emerald journals archive. To get access to these journal back files, it cost the library approximately $60,000.

If somehow we don’t have the journal you want electronically, or the years you need, let us know. We are always happy to take requests for future purchases. Please let us know what you need for your research.  We cannot guarantee we can get it, but we’ll do our best.


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