It seems obvious to me that having print journals in a library is beneficial. Yes, Arxiv, MathSciNet, Blogs and lecture notes by Mathematicians, Math Overflow, Wikipedia and Scholarpedia all of these have been extremely helpful in dissemination of research mathematics. Amongst other things electronic copies of articles helped immensely in increasing accessibility.

Most Journals these days have an online version. Which probably only a few would argue is not beneficial.

What I can't get myself agree is the opinion that one should stop subscribing to print copies of journals altogether. The arguments against subscribing both print and online I have come across are 1. Cost 2. Space Constraint 3. Redundancy.

The difference between online and print+online versions of journals are often marginal. If space constraint is an issue then one can argue against having a library as well. Why subscribe to the journals at all as most of the articles are available in the internet free.

What I can't fathom is the argument that print version of journals have become redundant.

I am asking this as in a discussion regarding journal subscription many faculty members expressed the opinion that we should stop subscribing to print version Of the journals. How does one defend the case for need of print journals?

Am I overly emotional and just nostalgic for old times? So many times I chanced upon a result while browsing through the pages of a journal; sometimes relevant to my own area, and sometimes totally unrelated but so exciting that it got me interested in that area.

I am sure this issue or debate is not limited to my University and I am asking this question here hoping to benefit from the comments and thoughts you may share.

My question is What are the benefits of subscribing print version Of journals, even if online versions are available. How it helps the research of faculty and graduate students.


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    $\begingroup$ Browsing is incredibly valuable for both books and journals (e.g., one could also ask whether it is bad that university libraries are shifting more and more of their new acquisitions to be e-books; this change has a real rationale, but I fear it is a looming disaster). The case seems more compelling in the case of books. Those who have never experienced finding something unexpected while browsing in a university library often don't realize what they're missing. A browsable "virtual library" replicating the real experience would be awesome, but alas seems to be a distant pipe dream. $\endgroup$
    – nfdc23
    Feb 23, 2018 at 5:19
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    $\begingroup$ One question is what of the current knowledge will be accessible in, say, 200 years, given that we don't have full control of what will be going on since then. $\endgroup$
    – YCor
    Feb 23, 2018 at 11:14
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    $\begingroup$ At a shorter scope, one question is about archive. If you stop subscribing to some publisher XXX (for instance, because XXX increases its prices by 10% every year, or because your university cut funds to your library so as to buy rifles for its professors, or whatever), for a printed journal subscription you keep everything you got. For an electronic subscription it's less clear! Also XXX can keep freely available resources older than something, so you don't deal about it, and suddenly put them in restricted access. Etc... $\endgroup$
    – YCor
    Feb 23, 2018 at 11:18
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    $\begingroup$ @j.c.: Mathematicians have greater use for older references than other scientific fields, so there are variants of this question which are more specific to mathematics (among various sciences). That being said, the revised version of the question now contains an interesting new subquestion (namely: do journals serve any purpose at all when material is available for free on the Internet? The answer is of course "yes"). But another site may still be better-suited for it (however where few mathematicians may see it, to provide a perspective which may not arise in other fields). $\endgroup$
    – nfdc23
    Feb 23, 2018 at 16:23
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    $\begingroup$ crossposted: academia.stackexchange.com/questions/104425/… $\endgroup$ Feb 23, 2018 at 18:25


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