The internet has, of course, a large effect on the distribution of scientific papers over the last ten years. Even more so, the consolidation of the scientific publishing companies has put a squeeze on university libraries.
Many of my colleagues have suggested that we just start up our own online journals. Running a journal is more than just getting papers refereed and sticking them on a web page. Journals have to be marketed, maintained and presented in a format that makes information easy to find. The private companies do a very good job of this. However, Elsevier's recent pricing policies are causing many libraries to drop several of their journals. Loss of access is never a good thing.
The professional societies, such as ACM, IEEE and SIAM have their own journals with their own on-line access policies that might form a reasonable median. You can also often get early versions of papers from scientist's home pages or sites like citeseer.
I have mixed emotions on the whole journal issue. Clearly status quo is not working--something will have to give. My biggest fear is that scientists will just stop submitting to journals altogether. I don't believe this is the best way to maintain knowledge for generations to come. After all, who will maintain your web page a century from now?