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The impact of electronic publishing on library services and resources in the UK

4.4 Contractual aspects

The terms and conditions under which electronic publications are supplied, as discussed in section 3.9.5, often do not take the needs of libraries fully into account. A degree of flexibility on the part of the producers, and a greater understanding of the operational needs and administrative constraints of libraries would be in the best interests of both publishers and purchasers.

In order that they may plan their budgets, librarians prefer tariff structures which allow them to predict their costs. They also prefer to deal with a relatively small number of suppliers rather than a large number of individual publishers, so that it would be advantageous to all parties if publishers could distribute their electronic products through existing or new subscription agents.

A library purchasing or subscribing to an electronic publication should not be placed in a worse position than it would be in if it had purchased a print-on-paper equivalent. Journal runs are not returned when a subscription is discontinued, and the return of CD-ROMs in similar circumstances is not considered to be in the best interests of libraries.

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