We have online access to a large number of journals and newspapers. The terms governing our access vary considerably, and can change with the passage of time. One of the most important aspects of our access is the extent to which it is dependable and permanent. Following is an attempt to illustrate the range of stability of our electronic offerings.
The most stable and permanent situation is when we have a subscription with the publisher to a specific journal or packaged group of journals (e.g. Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, Taylor & Francis). In this case we have guaranteed permanent access to all material published during the years of our subscription. Often we will also have access to a backfile of material published before our subscription started. In some cases we are assured continuing access to this backfile, while in other cases ongoing access to any material dating from before the start of our subscription is not guaranteed.
We have deals with some of our larger commercial publishers (e.g. Elsevier Science Direct, Sage Premier, Springer SpringerLink), generally with contract periods of two to four years, under which we maintain electronic subscriptions to the journals we used to subscribe to in print, and we are allowed access to a large group of additional journals for a very low package price. We have the same guaranteed permanent access for our subscribed titles as for any other subscriptions. We do not, however, acquire permanent access rights to titles in the low-cost “bonus” package; we have access to these titles only for the duration of the package deal. These deals are commonly renewed for subsequent terms, so we will usually retain access to the bonus titles for an extended period. However, sometimes the roster of journals in the package will change somewhat upon renewal of the deal, so we will gain access to new titles, but we may lose access to some titles we formerly had. Occasionally a title in the bonus package will vanish in the middle of the term, but we have no recourse since there are no guarantees of access for the individual non-subscribed titles.
Our access to many journals and newspapers is not directly with the publishers, but rather through subscriptions to aggregated full-text databases (e.g. Academic OneFile, Ethnic NewsWatch, Lexis-Nexis Academic). The vendors of the aggregations license content from the publishers, and these arrangements sometimes change; new titles are added from time to time, but others are deleted. So, we may find that a title or titles we have counted on, or that portions of the content of a title, have suddenly vanished. Since we have no direct relationship with the publishers of the original material, we acquire no ownership rights, and if something is pulled from the database, we are simply out of luck. And in the most drastic situation, if we cancel our subscription to one of these databases, no matter how long we have subscribed our access to everything ends immediately, One exception to the impermanence of aggregated content is archival databases (e.g. British Periodicals Collection, JSTOR, ProQuest Historical Newspapers), for which we have purchased perpetual access to material covering a certain period of time.
In addition to the resources we pay for, we facilitate access to many free and open-access publications, as a service to our users. Obviously, since the providers are furnishing this material to all at no cost, there are no guarantees of availability or permanence. We have no standing with the providers, so we are not in a position to request that problems be resolved.