Pick of the week: ATF 2 March 2010

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Some of you may already be subscribers to Above The Fold (ATF) our weekly current awareness compilation and commentary. We just sent out the seventieth issue. Our objective in assembling the newsletter was to offer an information professional’s view of issues from outside our domain that were worth your consideration and related to library, archive and museum challenges. We selected items of interest likely to be beyond your normal reading sphere to help folks you look farther more often with less work.The selection and the commentary on the chosen articles would, we hoped, encourage some lateral thinking in our domain.

The date above marked our seventieth weekly issue and ATF now has nearly 3100 subscribers. We decided that we’ll feature a chosen article each week here in hangingtogether. I’ve chosen this article to feature not because it’s outside our domain but because it shines such a light on the obstacles to change in the research library arena.

E-Library Economics (full article here)

Inside Higher Ed   •  February 10, 2010

The hard truth about hard copy. Recent studies suggest it might take up to 50 years, or two generations, before faculty in some disciplines will accept the predominance of digital resources over hard copy. But the economics may help to persuade them: estimates peg the cost of keeping a book on a shelf at a little over $4 a year, versus about 15 cents for a digital version.

This is the most disheartening saga. I feel badly for my colleague, Suzanne Thorin, the university librarian at Syracuse who is being vilified for acknowledging that the research library in the contemporary academy cannot contribute to the central academic mission without dramatic changes to its traditional processes and services. Managing the local book collection as part of a broad national pattern of provision, particularly alongside the emerging digital aggregations of text, could give readers and researchers more and better than any local print inventory. I’m looking forward to seeing the report mentioned in the article authored by another colleague, Paul Courant, from the University of Michigan but will have to wait until sometime in April. The faster it’s available the better. Cost evidence in these discussions is largely absent. Read the comments to fully appreciate the bile that this topic can attract. (Michalko)

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About Jim Michalko

Jim coordinates the OCLC Research office in San Mateo, CA, focuses on relationships with research libraries and work that renovates the library value proposition in the current information environment.

One Comment

  1. Congratulations. Your blog has been nominated for our Library Blog Awards. In fact, your blog was suggested more than once. We’re in the process of assembling information about all those nominated and will be sending a short questionaire, including the categories of awards and the judges involved. Would you please send me your email address so that I can send you the questionaire? If your email is on your blog, I couldn’t locate it.

    Thanks in advance,
    Peter W Tobey
    ptobey@salempress.com

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