This month we want to highlight the fantastic print journals at your physical fingertips.
Do people still read print magazines? Journal publishers are reporting that print is restrictive in terms of accessibility and content length. Academic articles are increasingly online, due to rising print costs and drops in demand for print subscriptions (see this THES article on the future of journal publishing in the ‘digital age’: As PNAS calls time on print, will more journals follow suit?, January 8th 2019).
It is certainly true that in our institution, students are heading online using our Discovery service or subject-specific databases to find high quality academic content for their research. We have moved significantly in that direction too – 10 years ago we had over 400 print subscriptions, now we have 150 print titles and over 40 individual online subscriptions; but alongside these we subscribe to various journal rich electronic databases which give access to over 60,000 titles.
However there are good reasons to maintain print journals depending on their audience, content and cost.
Do you browse the contents of an online journal, or go directly to the article you want? Most of us tend to target our search, missing out on that chance discovery of an unexpectedly interesting article tucked away on page 5. A scan read of trade journals such as Law Society Gazette or Police Professional gives a quick overview of developments in the field. And spending a few minutes in the library flicking through the latest edition can be a nice break from the desk.
Our journals are displayed with the latest edition facing out into the library. An interesting front cover can often catch your eye – even if it’s not in your usual area of interest. For example, the latest edition of Fit Pro in the library has features on Yin Yoga, Snow Activities and the fitness of performers in musical theatre! Art, law or education titles might not be your usual read but all may have topics of interest from time to time.
Sometimes we don’t have a choice: decisions from publishers still impact on which format the library subscribes to. Contrary to opinion, not all journals are published online; some publishers are quite restrictive with their electronic access and cost to academic institutions, and accompanying images may not always appear clearly. The latter is extremely important when viewing Arts and Creative titles so we continue to subscribe to many art & design titles including Elle Decoration and Art Monthly.
Then there is the feel of the print journal – studies show that some of us recall information better when it has been read in print rather than online, partly due to the interactive nature of print reading. There is something about turning the page that aids memory. In fact, many online platforms are trying to replicate the look and feel of turning the page. You might also be aware of the various studies on screen fatigue which can impact on a reader’s comprehension and learning.
However, as we become increasingly used to reading online, and the technology improves to encourage more interactivity while reading, this may not be the case in the future (see “Screen vs. paper: what is the difference for reading and learning?” https://insights.uksg.org/articles/10.1629/uksg.236/). How we interact with online reading depends on our own preferences, experiences, and the technology. So we in the library are always aware of the need to be flexible in ordering and maintaining journals collections.
Either way, we think that our 150 journals are worth keeping.. and we hope that you do too. So come along and discover something new in the library today!