A nation-wide license for archives of eJournals

For the German public, this year ended with great news from the German Research Foundation (DFG). After sponsoring nation-wide licences for databases mainly in the humanities and social sciences (blogged March, 23rd), the so called DFG-Bewilligungsausschuss für die Allgemeine Forschungsförderung decided on the 2nd of December to buy further 30 large fulltext databases. The collections will cost 21.5 Mio. Euro (app. 25 Mio. USD) and go live in May 2006. What is offered? Obviously quite a lot. I will only list the biomedical resources:

Annual Reviews Electronic Back Volume Collection
Biological Abstracts Archive 1969-2004
Oxford Journals Online Archive to 1995, including the Medicine Archive and the Science Archive
Backfiles on ScienceDirect (4.3 Mio. Articles to 1994)
Springer Online Journal Archive to 1996
Wiley InterScience Backfile Collections to 1995/2001

At the first glimpse I was shocked by the simple size of the ressources. Some of them we already bought or intended to buy. The consequences for information access are breath taking. One may argue, that year by year the benefit of this collection may shrink and especially in the field of medicine in a few years there may be no benefits at all. But officers of the DFG claimed yesterday, that this effort will not be a unique one. They will continue buying licenses to offer the most current research findings to the public. And they even thought on providing current journal subscriptions!

What is the impact of this centralized approach to the local medical libraries? Will their role decrease? As the digital divide between academics and the public will shrink, the importance of libraries as gatekeepers of information will shrink too. This will be particularly the case if they had defined themself solely by the simple number of journals they subscribe to.

This is a posting for the Carnival of the Infosciences, a weekly weblog post that endeavors to showcase the best posts in the blogosphere about topics related to the wide world of Library and Information Science.