College extends JSTOR library access to alumni

Free access to JSTOR, a digital library of academic journals, books and primary sources, is now available for all College alumni. Alumni access to JSTOR went live this summer, and last week, Alumni Relations office sent an e-mail to notify alumni of the new service, which includes 1400 scholarly journals that cover the humanities, social sciences and sciences.

For several years, JSTOR has been running a pilot program to offer its database to alumni at different colleges, including many of the College’s peer institutions such as Amherst and Bowdoin. “It has proven so popular and well used … that JSTOR decided to extend it to additional colleges and universities,” said David Pilachowski, College librarian. The Alumni Relations office now pays a fee for the additional access that is outside of the College’s licensing structure.

JSTOR was the most requested resource by alumni after graduation. According to Brooks Foehl ’88, director of Alumni Relations, there were multiple reasons why alumni requested access: “[JSTOR] is a service that many students utilize as undergrads and the ability to access JSTOR for professional or personal reasons is one that clearly resonates strongly.”

The service is extremely useful to alumni pursuing graduate degrees or involved in research. “The [reasons] that we hear most frequently as librarians is from alumni working on advanced degrees who are not located on the campus of that degree granting school,” said Pilachowski. “The alums have used JSTOR while at Williams and really want to be able to include it as a resource for their next degree. Other independent scholars, authors or journalists appreciate the breadth and depth of JSTOR coverage.”

Alumni of all different majors requested for access to JSTOR because of the database’s breadth of information. “One of the best things about JSTOR is that it covers the arts, humanities, and social, physical and biological sciences,” said Pilachowski. “This factor also means that the database is extremely helpful for interdisciplinary work.  Williams subscribes to ALL of the JSTOR full-text journals, making the search process a satisfying one in that the article text is always available.”

As of right now, the Alumni Relations office has no current plans to provide extended access to scholarly materials, as the expansion of access to JSTOR was also an initiative of the digital library. “It’s important to note that our offering JSTOR is possible because JSTOR sees alumni as a market and works with institutions to make access possible,” said Foehl. And so far, the alumni response to the new access has been very positive. “Over time we’ll be able to measure alumni usage of JSTOR but it’s clear from immediate anecdotal feedback that alumni are not just thrilled to have access but are deeply grateful to the college for making it possible.”