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