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JSTOR, begun in 1995, is an online system for archiving academic journals. It provides full-text searches of digitized (scanned) back issues of several hundred well known journals, dating back to 1665 in the case of the Philosophical Transactions. Originally funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, JSTOR is now an independent self-sustaining not-for-profit organization based in New York City.
JSTOR was conceived by William Bowen as a solution to the problems faced by libraries, especially research and university libraries, due to the increasing number of academic journals in existence. Most libraries found it prohibitively expensive to maintain a comprehensive collection of journals in terms of cost and space. By digitizing many journal titles, JSTOR allowed libraries to outsource the storage of these journals with the confidence that they would remain available for the long-term. Online access and full-text search ability improved access dramatically. As of May 2006, the database contains 614 journal titles and over 143,000 individual journal issues, totalling over 20 million pages of text.
JSTOR access is licensed mainly to libraries, universities and publishers. Participating libraries make JSTOR available to library members free of charge through the internet. Individual subscriptions are also available to certain journal titles through the journal publisher.
The availability of many journals on JSTOR is controlled by a "Moving Wall", a delay between the current volume of the journal and the current volume available on JSTOR. This time period is specified in an agreement between JSTOR and the publisher and is usually around three to five years. Publishers can request that the period of a "Moving Wall" be changed, request discontinuation of coverage, or request that the "Moving Wall" be changed to a "Fixed Wall". A "Fixed Wall" is a specified date after which JSTOR is not allowed to add new volumes into their database. A "Fixed Wall" is usually arranged when a publisher makes its articles available online through a site controlled by the publisher.