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Letter from the President

[Henk Schenk] Henk Schenk
I cite from a current IUCr press release:

The International Union of Crystallography (IUCr) is excited to announce the availability of 50+ years of groundbreaking crystallographic research on your desktop! The complete text of all IUCr journals back to 1948 is now online. The IUCr is enabling unprecedented access to its complete journal collection. The Crystallography Journals Online service ( now offers full-text access back to the first issue of all IUCr journals.

More than 50 000 articles have been digitized to create nearly 200 000 PDF pages, all fully searchable on titles and authors. Subscribers holding a current subscription to a particular journal now have online access to all back issues of that journal. Individual articles are also available to nonsubscribers on payment of a fee for each article.

The press release continues with a quotation from Paul Ewald (1888–1985), founding Editor of Acta Crystallographica, founding president of the IUCr and pioneer of crystallography: 'Acta is ... a central place for publication and discussion of all research in this vast and ever-expanding field. It borders, naturally, on pure physics, chemistry, biology, mineralogy, technology and also on mathematics.'

So, the back issues of all our journals are online and much earlier than scheduled! The plan was to have the project finished in the spring of 2002, but on 14 November I experimented with the new possibilities of the test version and it was exciting. Now, a month later all is complete and it is a real pleasure to have all articles available at a mouse click. For a lecture, I wanted to go back to the oldest Acta papers on direct methods, and in half an hour I had selected everything I needed and downloaded the original texts to my notebook. So on my way to the AsCA meeting I had my direct methods selection on board — fantastic!

When in Glasgow 1999 Peter Strickland, the Managing Editor of our journals, Brian McMahon, the Research and Development Officer, and John Helliwell, the Editor-in-Chief, proposed the back issue project, the Executive Committee was very positive and gladly allocated the required budget from the Journals Development Fund. At the time it seemed to us a major enterprise that could well take more than the planned two and a half years. But we have a very capable research department at our office in Chester and they designed the whole procedure to be as automatic as possible. So now the IUCr is the only scientific publisher in the world to have all its pages ever printed available online. I’m very proud!

It is mid-December when I’m writing this letter. So this will be my last letter of 2001, a year that finished too quickly. For the IUCr, 2002 will be an important year as we will have our triennial General Assembly and Congress in Geneva. The Congress is the main crystallographic event in three years and will be scientifically of top quality as usual. The General Assembly will discuss the plan for the next triennium, we will decide on the Congress venue for 2008 and many other items will pass the agenda. The Executive Committee will also have intensive discussions with the chairs of the Commissions.

I hope I will meet many of you next August in Geneva. I wish you all the best for 2002, personally and professionally.

Henk Schenk