"What to Keep and What to Toss"

Here is the handout text and outline notes for the MLA session that took place on 11/4/99. Other members of this panel were Mary Cary (Escanaba Public Library), Richard Vettese (Grand Rapids Public Library), and Sharon Campbell (Rochester Hills Public Library), presider.

Resources related to electronic access issues:

Carol Tenopir, "Should we cancel print?" Library Journal (Sept. 1, 1999) pp. 138-142.

AccessMichigan home page: http://accessmichigan.org/

Michigan Library Consortium home page: http://www.mlc.lib.mi.us/

Project Muse home page: http://muse.jhu.edu/

California State University, "Principles for CSU Acquisition of Electronic Information Resources": http://www.co.calstate.edu/irt/seir/EIR.prin.html

SPARC home page (Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition): http://www.arl.org/sparc/index.html

Some print indexing and abstracting tools replaced with online access at MSU:
Print publication Last year in paper Electronic access or equivalent

Titles for which the same title is accessible online.

Dissertation Abstracts


Access via FirstSearch


Access via FirstSearch
Science Citation Index


Access via ISI web site
Social Sciences Citation Index


Access via ISI web site
Historical Abstracts


Access via ABC-Clio Web site
Biological Abstracts


Access via ERL (WinSPIRS)
Sociological Abstracts


Access via ERL (WinSPIRS)


Access via ERL (WinSPIRS)
MLA International Bibliography


Access via ERL (WinSPIRS)

Titles for which a comparable but different resource is available online.

TV News Index and Abstracts


Lexis-Nexis Universe
Index Veterinarius


Medline via FS or ERL
Education Index


ERIC via FirstSearch or ERL
Political Science Abstracts


Information Science Abstracts


Library Literature via FS

Outline of remarks

The members of the panel cannot tell you what to keep and toss at your library, because each library is unique: collection, mission, users.

This is obvious comparing Escanaba Public Library and the MSU Libraries.

Yet, the same issues and factors are at work. My comments on this are based on a recent merger of several service points (leading to duplication) and on our experience with indexing and abstracting tools.

What should you be doing/how should you be thinking about what to keep and toss?

First, make yourself aware of the available electronic options.  Resources for this:

Second, know your own users and the role the library plays for them.

After comparing options with users' needs, ask yourself some questions to evaluate the relative advantages and disadvantages of moving from paper to digital materials.

In terms of risks:

In terms of benefits:

Third, think about how weeding decisions take place, including the role of print-to-digital issues in those decisions.

Some pragmatic observations about print-to-digital decision-making:

When print-to-digital changes are being considered, some practical steps can improve the quality of the decision.

Steven W. Sowards
Michigan State University Libraries
100 Library
East Lansing MI 48824-1048

Page editor: Steven Sowards
Email: sowards@msu.edu
Created 7 November 1999; last modified 28 August 2003.