The CERN Library offers services to 1,500 CERN staff physicists and
engineers, as well as to a wider community of 7,000 CERN visitors, who
expect to find at least the same level of Library services as at their
home institutions. However, for some of the users coming from
less developed countries, the CERN Library is the only available
At CERN, 5 satellite libraries were created, mainly in order to facilitate the access to scientific journals. For the same reason, we have multiple subscriptions to some HEP core journals.
In the last few years, as a consequence of general economy measures taken by CERN management, we are experiencing severe budget reductions :
10 % in 1995
7.5 % in 1997
up to 16 % announced for 1998
At the same time, the number of staff members has decreased because of
retirements : 2 staff left CERN Library in 1996, 5 in 1997. A revision
concerning this trend can not be expected in the foreseeable future.
In 1996, CERN Library spent 710 k CHF for scientific journal
subscriptions, which is 82 % of the total purchasing budget. According to
informal Library standards, in a 'healthy' Library environment, not more
than 65% of the total budget should be allocated to journal
At CERN, 110 k CHF of the total expenses for periodicals cover subscriptions to journals available in both paper and electronic form (80 k CHF) or to purely electronic resources (30 k CHF).
The trend towards an ever increasing availability of e-journals is continuing : at present, 1/7 of all subscribed journals are electronically available, and 1/3 of them will probably be accessible on the Web in 1998. We estimate that in the year 2000 almost 80 % of our budget will be allocated to electronic resources.
We expect from the publishers more suitable price policies, e.g.
substantial price reductions for electronic subscriptions only. Archiving
issues should be solved either by publishers, or by national libraries.
Third party organizations, e.g. OCLC, could also play a role in this
The access to e-journals should be made simpler by eliminating the necessity for passwords and by moving to an IP (or domain name) based system. Furthermore, the URLs of electronic journals should be unique and not depend on the site of the user.
Finally, a transparent link between bibliographic database records and full-text articles should be created. This would enable us to offer information retrieval tools and full-text access directly from the user's desktop.
The growing availability of electronic information should help the
Library to maintain the current level of services, in spite of
resources' reduction. Indeed, an increasing "digitalized" Library could
not only enhance its services in terms of access and availability of
publications, but also reduce the manual work (check-in, claiming,
shelving and reshelving, binding).