FES’s Back-Issue Project
In 1996, having succeeded in putting current issues of Florida Entomologist on line from June 1994 forward, FES directed its attention to back issues. The 20,000 pages published from June 1917 to March 1994 had been composed by cut-and-paste rather than electronically. Thus files suitable for posting on the Web would be difficult to make. The Society initiated a pilot project to determine the feasibility of scanning the pages of articles, assembling them in word processing software, and printing the collated bitmapped pages to Portable Document Format (PDF) files. Early tests were successful, and all articles in the two most recent back issues (Mar. 1994 and Dec. 1993) were put on line in Dec. 1996 at a cost of $0.75 per page. Plans were made to solicit donations for putting additional issues on line in the same fashion.
However, early in 1997, FES learned that JSTOR was using a much superior process to put entire back runs of journals on the Web. Not only were the issues scanned, but text was optically character read to an accuracy of 99.95% and components of issues and articles were manually analyzed. This allowed indexes to be made that could be used to locate any word or phrase within all fields and all items, or within specific fields (title, author, etc), or within specified types of item (article, book review, etc.). Furthermore, JSTOR was doing this at a very attractive price: $0.39 per page according to an article in Scientific American (but if all costs were included, ca. $2 per page according to JSTOR). When contacted, JSTOR declined to make the back issues of Florida Entomologist one of its projects but put FES in touch with the company that did its scanning.
Offshore Keyboarding Corporation, Barbados, quoted FES these prices for processing the 20,000 pages of Florida Entomologist back issues:
From a preliminary analysis, FES estimated that $12,000 would be sufficient to process all back issues. In early 1998, it raised this amount as follows: two anonymous donors from industry, $4,000; UF Department of Entomology and Nematology, $4,000 (approved by faculty vote); UF Dean for Research in Agriculture and Natural Resources, $4,000. On 9 Mar. 1998, a purchase order was issued to Offshore Keyboarding. On 14 Jan 1999 the final CD was received; the total costs were $11,255, for 19,873 pages (57¢ per page).
The files received from Offshore Keyboarding were turned over to the Florida Center for Library Automation. FCLA wrote programs to produce browsable tables of contents for all issues and PDF files for all items. On 27 Apr 1999, FCLA made these freely accessible on the Web in the same digital-library interface that it was using for the full-text electronic versions of more than 600 Elsevier journals. Items in this set of back issues could then be retrieved by searching by “keyword” (words or phrases in Author, Title, Abstract, and Keyword fields) or by author or title.
In September 2004, FCLA significantly improved search access to the 1917 to 1994 articles by using the RAW files generated by optical character recognition to enable searches of the full text of the articles by any word or phrase, or Boolean combination thereof. FCLA also generated a single index for all issues (1917 to date), so that all articles were candidates for retrieval in any search.