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Electronic repositories for publications

If this doesn't veer too far off-topic, I'll point out that a model
of what it takes to run such a thing exists in the NASA Astrophysics
Data System (ADS) search and retrieval facility:
which I used heavily in compiling some earlier messages on impacts
and Nemesis. Some key aspects in making this work are:

- NASA figured it was interested enough to fund not only the initial data
  ingestion but upkeep (several FTE's worth)
- it's hosted by an eductaional institution, not a for-profit company
- many of our major journals are managed by socities rather than
  commercial publishers. _Nature_ abstracts are not available on-lin
  while many full texts from other journals are. Actually, the major
  discipline-specific journals are now scanned back to their inceptions
  in the last-but-one century.

It has especially useful features letting one trace the citation chain
up and down in time.

On the not-yet-published side (should we call that the Holtz period
in honor of his admonitions), physics, astronomy, and math are
hosted at the Los Alamos preprint server
(to the frustration of those working where blockers barf at the xxx).
This system uses volunrary submissions of submitted papers and
online compendia, and has a software setup that could usefully be
copied somewhere. Again, though, one shouldn't underestimate the
people-time needed to keep such things going, but they are fantastically
useful resources. I suspect we've benefitted from that fact that
"it is the fate of astronomy to become the first all-digital science"
(from Larry Smarr; it didn't clearly work out that way, but we were 
close) and the fact that by 1970 practically all cited work appeared
in only about 8 journals, so scanning and indexing was a manageable
if multiyear task. For most journals, there's a period after publication
when full-text access still requires either institutional or personal
subscription, as a form of copyright and reveneue protection.

To summarize, compiling such a thing in paleontology would be quite
labor-intensive but obviously worthwhile. It would probably be a key
aspect to have institutional support for both funding and hosting.

And a happy genuine turn of the millennium to all,

Bill Keel
Astronomy, University of Alabama