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Journal des Savants: From the Republic of Letters to the Cloud Library


As more books, journals, and newspapers make the inevitable transition to the electronic format, academics get the sense that the only scholarly materials one really needs can be found in the digital realm. Through the imagined voice of the Journal des Savants—the world’s oldest scholarly journal still active today—this article brings to the surface valid concerns about print scarcity, familiar terrain for not only Europeanists but for anyone who works in area studies. It objects to conventional metrics for determining scholarly value and reconfirms known perils of relying solely on the mass-digitization efforts of Google Books. Most importantly, the article questions an over-reliance on digitalpreservation repositories such as LOCKSS, CLOCKSS, Portico, and HathiTrust—key players in the so-called Cloud Library, or external network of trusted digital library collection and service providers. The push toward cloud-sourced collections comes at a time when research libraries are hastily embarking on ambitious cooperative regional initiatives to systematically de-duplicate their costly, problematic,redundant, and very much terrestrial print collections.

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