As part of a new program to contain costs, the American Chemical Society (ACS) plans to phase out and suspend print publication of all journals within one year.
According to Madeleine Jacobs, ACS Executive Director, the move is aimed at ensuring the long-term solvency of one of the country's oldest and largest professional and scientific organizations: "We've seen substantial declines in our print subscribership across the board over the last three years. It is with deep regret that we take this step to ensure the future of the ACS."
Observers close to the situation say the decision has been a long time in coming. For years, representatives at academic libraries have expressed alarm at the rate of subscription increases imposed by scientific journal publishers like the ACS, and the proliferation of titles. In response to these pressures, the ACS introduced a new pricing model in 2007 that effectively decoupled subscriptions to print journals from subscriptions to electronic journals.
"We took them up on the offer and now provide only electronic subscriptions to ACS journals. Most of the science and engineering libraries I know of have done the same," said Jeremy Bentham, Science and Engineering Library Coordinator at Oxford University.
The immediate effects of the move by ACS remain unclear. Most library representatives expressed pessimism that their current print holdings of ACS journals would continue to be maintained in the face of ongoing budget pressures and declining use.
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