List Monitors Note:
For the sake of not forwarding every email dealing with this topic, I have copied the body of the text below from numerous posting received over the past days.  The are posted in order of being received with the most recent at the top...

05/15/06 10:02 AM
For the last 8-10 years, the NIH Library has systemmatically tried to
convert all its print journals to online, preferrably online only.  We
also are acquiring online backfiles where available if budget permits.
Presently, 90% of the 5000 plus journals to which we subscribe are
available to our users online.  Users strongly indicate a preference for
online access.  However, our users also tell us that they want us to
keep older print backfiles because the quaility of scanned color plates
and grey-scale images are not the same as viewing the original print.
Use of the print collection for this or any other purpose is very low,
but we are trying to oblige as space permits.  When color plates and
grey-scale images are not an issue, we do discard print backfiles when
we have gotten them electronically.  The quality of the current online
images are superior to print in many cases, so retaining current print
issues is not as necessary.  
We have been much slower at acquiring online books.  Our strategy has  been to acquire major textbooks or reference books online for quick look up use.  Most of our users still prefer print when reading monographs.
As to a study, we have conducted user surveys every other year to find their needs and preferences and we also monitor usage of print material very closely.  When we began the conversion to online in the mid-90's we did so by concentrating on the 50 most heavily used print titles and then on the 350 most heavily used.  By the time we had these, publishers were offering packages which we feel provided us with opportunities to expand our online collections at a reasonable cost.  Our goal is 100% online access, but at present we have about 450 journal subscriptions that are only available in print.
I hope this is the kind of information you are seeking.
Suzanne Grefsheim 
Director, Division of Library Services 
Office of Research Services 
National Institutes of Health 
10 Center Drive, MSC-1150 
Bethesda, MD 20892 
301.496.2448 (voice) 
301.402.0254 (fax) <>  

05/15/06 9:49 AM
We have been moving the entire Naval Research Laboratory library to a digital platform over the past 18 years.  We've had a set of strategic
efforts with management backing to convert large portions of the library to digital over the years including digitizing over 200,000 unclassified reports (10M pages) to TIFF starting back in 1988 - that data has since gone through two major evolutions and is still accessible online (now stored in PDF format).  We've also successfully moved from 1,400 print journal titles 10+ years ago to over 3,000 online journals now with less than 2 dozen print titles - at the same time we have online access to over 60% of our entire print journal archive (an extensive collection of over 60,000 bound volumes from nearly 1,500 journals).
Since our primary sources of information are journals, conference
proceedings, and reports, we can more easily make a quest towards an 'all digital' future than a traditional public-type library with a primary
collection of books can.  Since we were early adopters and have continued to push the envelope with digital technology with an eye towards providing better service to our researchers, we're viewed as an excellent resource by management and scientists and were specifically excluded from an A-76 study by top management several years ago.  
As others have said, it not not cheaper to go digital but does have some long term advantages, including being able to 'do more with less' and being able to provide the service that more and more users want - a Google-like access to the library's resources.  Beware of the urban legends and positioning by traditional librarians in debates like this, many are threatened by change and throw up barriers to making a real difference in this space.  In the end, overhead is a thing to be cut whereas a mission critical service directly helps the bottom line - without a strong digital presence, libraries are viewed as simply overhead.
Feel free to contact me if you have more questions.


R. James King, MLS
Chief Librarian
Naval Research Laboratory
Ruth H. Hooker Research Library
"NRL Partner in Research" for over 75 years!

[log in to unmask] 
(202) 767-2357
05/12/06 2:54 PM
Because of the extremely high number of staff NOT in the DC area, we
rewrote our collection development policy a few years ago to clearly
state a preference for electronic over print.  I'll give you a quick
sketch of what that has meant.

Because we have access to several aggregators (Infotrac, Proquest
Research, and a few others), we checked current subscriptions against
titles held by the aggregators.  We cancelled many of the print
subscriptions, but not all.

For many annual reference works we switched from print to electronic.
But not for all.  As with our periodicals, there were some titles that
reference staff insisted we have on hand in print. Those opinions were
based on workflow issues, walk-in traffic, etc.

For monographs, although we built a good collection of e-books (just
over 2,000 titles),  monographs rarely offer the option of electronic
over print.  When important, in-scope, new titles are published they are almost never simultaneously available electronically.

Our virtual library has been a great success.  Usage is high.
Department of State staff posted overseas love having access to
searchable daily US newspapers, news magazines, and all the basic
reference works.  But if any library committed itself to 100% electronic
right now, they'd be mighty foolish.  The products aren't there (books
especially).  For some products the cost is way too high. And our
customers are generally not eager to read books in full from a screen...
And they may never be interested in that.

Ned Kraft
Acquisitions Librarian
US Department of State
5/12/06 2:32 PM
Regarding digital conversion, with or without, a study:  This is an
addendum to my earlier reply.  We did do something quick, cheap, and
very useful.  We had an old card catalog with hundreds of drawers of
cards analyzing report literature from five libraries dating back to the
1940s; no chance of having that redone in MARC or COSATI format.  Using Adobe Acrobat Professional, we scanned and digitized the Shelf List and put the results on a shared server. Now we can search the catalog from our desktops, which makes it most useful as the collection is about five miles away.  It went quickly and easily and we were able to discard the old card catalog.
LeTendre, Louise (Civ, ARL/CISD)" <[log in to unmask]>
05/12/06 2:42 PM
I agree, I think Mr. Hadden's comments are excellent as well.  Many
library users,IT departments, and some librarians are very taken with
the "virtual everything" idea. 

What happens when you can no longer subscribe to a database that had full text resources?  And, as far as I can see, there never have been any answers to what happens when the company producing the full text database goes out of busisness.  How are you supposed to get the materials if you never subscribed to the print copy?  Yes, there is ILL but what if the item you wanted was not purchased by anyone you can borrow from?  And what about things that are available only in
electronic format?  

Anne Maria Frketich, MLS		
Reference Librarian
Armed Forces Medical Library 
5109 Leesburg Pike, Room 670
Falls Church, VA  22041
E-mail:  [log in to unmask] 
Phone: 703-681-1104;  FAX: 703-681-8034 
05/12/06 1:48 PM
I created a virtual library with webpac and PDFs for the NY State Department of Labor in 1999-2000.  
NY State funds the development of workplace safety traing.  And at the time had accumulated some 80 documents boxes of materials.
After sorting and shelving the materials we began cataloging and scanning.  We digitized about 80,000 pages.  this was done with a contractor and in house staff over a period of about 10 months.
A contractor was used as a jump start to scan a good portion of the documents so that the webpac would be a credible public resource.
The balance of the materials were scanned in the resource center using an HP9100 digital sender, scannner.
After completing work on the NYS materials we began searching for other related open source documents and added weblinks and other PDFs to our webpac.'s funding was discontinued in 2002 and the website shutdown.

Ronald Joe, librarian 
(860) 694 5157; DSN 694 5157 
[log in to unmask] 
Fax - 860 694 4809 

Naval Submarine Medical Research Laboratory 
Naval Submarine Base New London Box 900 
Bldg 148, Trout Avenue 
Groton, CT 06349-5900