Quite Distinct

To a recovering library partisan like me, crystal-ball discussions about the future of libraries are never dull (as evinced in my incessant ramblings on said subject here in this blog). Clifford Lynch’s keynote address on “infinite collections” held at the 2011 OCLC Symposium was no exception. Lynch, well known in higher education and library circles as a technology futurist of sorts, sets the stage by reviewing the traditional roles that libraries (primarily academic) have filled—developing, maintaining, and providing access to collections for their user communities as well as preserving the cultural record for the broader good.

The crux of his talk, however, was focused on the opportunities and challenges libraries face now and in the near future. Continue reading

Benkler’s Post-Industrial Information Production and Libraries

My summer reading plans veered off course in seconds flat—only a couple days after I posted them here, I checked out Yochai Benkler’s Wealth of Networks from the library and thereafter have been happily submerged in its rich sea of ideas. So many elements of the book are proving provocative that I’ve had trouble adhering to my hopes of a weekly blog post, overwhelmed by too much to digest and repond to. Here’s a very meager and superficial start, which may or may not become part of a larger, more thorough essay in the long run.

As one who’s been swept up by the pro-openness/commons and anti-copyright-expansion rhetoric now in vogue in many liberal circles (see here and here and here), I’ve been jonesing on the “let’s begin at the beginning,” philosophically grounded, empirically argued approach of the Wealth of Networks. Especially exciting to me is the exploration of economic and political theory—realms of thought routinely ignored in the practical and scholarly literature I have been exposed to in my library and information science grad program and in my personal readings. Continue reading

Another “Future of” Post

Inside Higher Ed’s Blog U features a post today from Tracy Mitrano summarizing points made by Susan Perry and Jay Schafer about the future of academic libraries. It joins so many other prognistications echoing about the blogosphere, but is interesting for its technology focus (not surprising, given the source).

  • Purchasing and cataloging functions are changing rapidly and the need for traditional technical services staff is shrinking.
    Licensing, rather than purchasing, material is prevalent.
  • The Open Source movement is making many learning materials and computer applications freely available. However, maintenance of the applications requires staff. It is a trade-off between purchased applications with support and open source applications that you have to support yourself.
  • Digital asset management and production is becoming the name of the game. Continue reading

Editing as Collecting, Collecting as Editing

Being caught up lately in thinking and reading about library collections in the age of delicious, RSS, etc., and ongoing interest in the Fate of Journalism made this Kent Anderson post on Scholarly Kitchen jump out, Is Print an Elite Medium? Or a Medium of Elitists?

[A]side from being important to long-term career success, editorial work in the networked world may be vital to solving our much talked-about “filter failure” problem. The author [Paul Ford] observes that “[t]he Semantic Web is basically the edited web, for some very nerdy take on editing. Which implies editors,” and then argues that this layer of filtering, shaping, and contextualizing is what will keep the Web useful.

Although not so in the old analog world, publication editors and librarians are now often after the same thing, filtering and enhancing communication. What, if any, are the implications of this shared purpose? Could it be drawn out into useful collaborations of some kind? Or, instead, what new phoenix will or could rise from the passing away or transformation of these two traditional roles? Rutgers, the University of South Carolina, and probably other institutions are now offering masters degrees in communication and information studies–which, at face value, at least, seems to show some recognition of these overlapping roles.