One of the most touching themes in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings is that of the passing of the elves and elvish ways from Middle Earth, giving way to the age of men and orcs and their battle for supremacy. By the end of the trilogy most readers have become thoroughly charmed by this honorable and graceful race of creatures. Their reluctant but noble acquiescence to the inevitable environmental shift in what had been their home gives a sad, elegiac overtone to the story.
No wonder thoughts of elves have come to mind as we have been putting together our next noontime forum (Wednesday, March 18, GH103. Watch for email announcements) devoted to finding and linking to full-text content of journal literature online. Subscriptions to print journals, magazines, and newspapers have been a major component of library collections for more than a century. It has taken work to build, title by title, issue by issue, our collection of journals, but the result has been the amassing of a huge amount of scholarship, opinion, and creative thought in the shorter forms of articles, letters, and reviews.
Now, however, given the enormous popularity of access with the click of a mouse to many of these same articles and reviews, we are left to wonder about the ultimate fate of this genus and species of print publication. So even as we are getting ready to show even more ways to find the full text of journal content online, we are sensing a slow but inexorable march off the stage where these sometimes cantankerous, sometimes elegant, but always interesting publications have played their part.