E-journal Access: The Online Catalog (856 Field), Web Lists, and "The Principle of Least Effort"

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Sage Publications


Access to electronic journal collections has become increasingly important to library patrons, who appreciate, then become addicted to, the convenient and immediate connection to needed, recent articles. These e-collections have grown, in just the past two to three years, from a handful of "free e-access with print subscription" journals to hundreds of titles and entire publisher collections with search engines and hot links. The debate in many libraries is how to provide the best access to these growing collections. Two methods have emerged, one utilizing the 856 field of the MARC record, and the other based on an alphabetical or subject Web list of licensed journals. The two methods are examined in light of "The principle of least effort," a principle widely adopted by library users and encouraged by libraries, which continually seek to provide "least effort" technologies to their patrons.