The proliferation of scholarly journals in the perilous “publish or perish” academic climate of the last 20 years has produced considerable concern recently, particularly among college and university librarians, who must figure out what to do with them.

For example, on an average day the medical school library to which I have access receives 50 new journal issues, taking up a total of 2 ft. of shelf space. The main campus library subscribes to about twice as many journals, and a number of “specialty” libraries on campus have their own collections (math, agriculture, social sciences, and so on). Ten years ago, these figures were approximately half; that is, academic journals are increasing in size with a doubling time of about a decade.

Thus, 10 years hence, the medical school library will be receiving 100 journals per day taking up 4 ft. of shelf space: Ten years after that, it will...

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