This column is devoted to issues related to technology at the University of St. Thomas. It is a joint effort of Computing and Communication Services, Instructional Support Services and the university libraries. Please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Dan Gjelten, O’Shaughnessy-Frey Library Center
The UST libraries’ newest electronic resource combines the technology of the current century with the intellectual content of the previous two centuries in a package that allows users to search academic journals of the 19th century by keyword. JSTOR (Journal STORage), a project of the Mellon Foundation, was originally conceived as a way to reduce the pressure on library space created by the storage of thousands of back issues of scholarly journals. The database currently contains the entire contents of 117 journals, from the first issue of publication. In many cases, the titles date back to the 19th century. The journals cover the following academic areas:
African-American studies, anthropology, Asian studies, ecology, economics, education, finance, history, literature, mathematics, philosophy, political Science, population studies, sociology and statistics.
JSTOR users see the page from the journal exactly as it originally was published, with the same fonts and design, just as if they were reading the printed journal. “Beneath” this page, however, is a searchable text file containing every word of the issue contents.
It has become clear that JSTOR meets other needs, however, beyond relieving pressure on library’s shelves. It has made these thousands of issues searchable in a completely new way for today’s researchers. Before this database, access to 19th century literature consisted of, at best, the use of printed indexes of varying quality. In many cases, the contents of the journals simply had to be reviewed on an issue-by-issue basis. Using JSTOR, scholars can conduct word-by-word searches of the articles in the entire run of journals in a few seconds. The system makes the contents of these journals available in an entirely new way.
JSTOR is intended to be a “reliable archive” of these journal titles. It does not provide access to the most recent issues (the last three to five years) of the journals. It does not replace a library’s subscription to the journal. It does, however, permit a library to relocate the back issues of the journals they are storing. The UST libraries have not yet made a final decision on the disposition of the printed copies of the journals we have which are included in JSTOR. The new Minnesota Library Access Center, a secure underground storage facility recently opened on the University of Minnesota campus, will provide a safe place for libraries to store and retrieve seldom-used printed materials.
The list of JSTOR journals will continue to grow. The next group of titles scheduled to be added to the system includes science materials, including the Proceedings of the Royal Academy of Sciences dating back to the 17th century.
St. Thomas’ access to JSTOR was made possible through a grant of the Bush Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellow Foundation. We look forward to using this resource for many years. For more information on this impressive new resource, refer to www.jstor.org. Please call the O’Shaughnessy-Frey Reference Desk, (651) 962-5001, with any questions about the database, or to request training for your department or your students.