Baylor University was the first.
A Baylor alumnus a little over a year ago wanted students at his alma mater to have a full, online subscription to the AAPG and SEPM publications archive on the Internet, so he asked AAPG/Datapages to establish a price schedule for university libraries.
Because AAPG and the AAPG Foundation have a long tradition of underwriting students' needs, Datapages developed an unlimited-access subscription to AAPG publications for $1,200/year (SEPM's Journal of Sedimentary Research also is scheduled for $400/year, and the GCAGS Transactions subscribes for $250/year).
Based on the numbers of client/users (students) alone, a comparable Corporate Subscription would cost thousands of dollars each year.
Since then nine other universities have become subscribers under the plan.
The Baylor alumnus (an AAPG Foundation Trustee Associate who prefers to remain anonymous to the public) then decided to challenge his fellow Trustee Associates with the idea, approaching the Foundation Trustees with the recommendation. Two Trustee alumni from Stanford (Larry Funkhouser and Bud Reid) immediately said they would support a similar subscription for their California school.
Others have picked up the challenge:
- Don Tobin contributed the first-year subscription to the University of Colorado.
- Steve Sonnenberg ensured that both Colorado School of Mines and Texas A&M University were among the first to adopt the new library technology.
- Bob Cowdery (Wichita) organized a campaign among Kansas State University alumni to ensure K-State also got on board.
- Four Trustee Associates from Oklahoma State (Terry Hollrah, Don O'Nesky, Rick Fritz and Paul McDaniel) combined pledges for OSU.
- Charles Weiner contributed a first-year subscription to Texas Christian University in the memory of his brother, Ted Weiner, who taught on the faculty at TCU.
The Trustee Associates challenge also came to the attention of Tom Barrow, whose past generosity with the University of Texas at Austin created a special library fund in the geology department. Barrow alerted UT-Austin to the special library pricing and encouraged them to become a subscriber.
Other schools have taken advantage of the program without involvement by a Trustee Associate, and every school is eligible for the special pricing.
"The Trustee Associates have shown a way to channel their support to schools in a meaningful way," said Ron Hart, of AAPG/Datapages. "Although the subscription price is pretty low compared to many other library database and journal subscriptions, it's still a pretty big ticket.
"Alumni can really make a difference with this initiative."
The AAPG Foundation is acting as a clearinghouse for contributions from Trustee Associates, especially those who want to combine their gifts with others, but Foundation involvement is not required. Several Universities have approached AAPG/Datapages directly with money earmarked by alumni for Internet subscriptions.
How valuable can it be?
"When we provided Texas A&M with a demonstration password so they could evaluate the database, we registered thousands of 'page views' and more than 1,500 articles were downloaded during a 45-day period," Hart said.
"We cannot measure how many hours were saved by library personnel, but more importantly the students were able to evaluate more information more quickly, and their research was better because of it."
Mary Kay Grosvald, one of the AAPG Foundation librarians who advises Hart on university and library issues, said the potential eventually will go beyond the Trustee Associates.
"We expect companies to donate subscriptions, especially to universities overseas. Because of the cost of publications and the expense to ship and store publications properly, we expect libraries in countries with a developing petroleum industry to take advantage of this technology-based solution. Now, the entire AAPG library is as close as the Internet."
Libraries will access the Web-based search-and-retrieval database using a standard Web browser software (like Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Internet Explorer).
Because the search software is server-based, there is no special software required by the user.
Most data retrieval is text-based, so information is retrieved quickly, even in areas where Internet service is slow. Actual articles with images are downloaded as Acrobat PDF files -- most of which are one-to-three megabytes -- so the actual downloading may be slow where the Internet network is not fully developed. But the user can read the text of the articles online instantly and evaluate the information before he decides to download.
In North America and many other developed areas, high-speed lines make download time a nil factor.
Individuals or companies interested in subscribing in the name of a university can contact AAPG/Datapages or the AAPG Foundation. And those who want to contribute toward a subscription, but who are unable to contribute the entire subscription amount, can coordinate their gift with other alumni through the AAPG Foundation. Call Sherry Hyer at the Foundation office for details.