Posts in future of libraries

Artificial Scarcity: I attempt to identify the root cause of the #HCOD debacle

…the publishing industry has lost its technological monopoly on the flow of information. This means that libraries can no longer identify ourselves as purchasing collectives for containers of information.

#HCOD sturm und drang

There has been much sturm und drang in library-land over Harper Collins recent decision to limit ebook circulation of their titles. Harper Collins has decided that after the 26th time one of their ebooks has circulated, it will expire and the library will need to purchase a new copy. A New York Times blog ran a piece on it and Bobbi Newman (Librarian-by-Day) has an excellent digest of the conversation. It has certainly stirred a hornets’ nest, but it remains to be seen whether this is itself a big deal, or whether it is merely a symptom of a deeper problem.

In circumstances like this one I tend to look for root causes and big picture solutions. This means that my contribution to the discussion should not be confused with practical, daily-running-of-the-library kinds of solutions. What I’m interested in sorting out is why is this happening and whatever is happening, where are we on the timeline of its progression? I’ve been trying to think and talk this issue out using twitter (@nnschiller) and my +/- 140 character response would be: Publishers are becoming an anachronism. Libraries risk the same if we single-source our content through the publishing industry. Phrased another way: The real problem can best been seen by analyzing artificial scarcity efforts. Neither really get at the core of the issue, so here is my attempt to connect some dots.

Artificial Scarcity is the real problem. (Or at least a significant manifestation of the real problem) Read More

The user becomes the collection

(This is a previously unpublished post  from my WordPress drafts folder. I’ve cleaned it up and finished some thoughts, but mostly it stands as written in November 2010)

The user becomes the collection

At this Fall’s ACRL Northwest conference, I had the good fortune to participate in a panel discussing the future of libraries. We were asked what we thought the theme of the conference would be five years in the future. In the month or so since the panel took place, I can’t seem to stop mulling over the answer that I gave. I said something along the lines of “The user becomes the collection”, meaning that libraries, instead of providing access to static content will instead provide access for our users to connect with networks of like minds. I predict this trend will continue to the point where libraries become more about curating networks and connections between thinkers and creators of information and less about the static content we store in our collections.
Read More

Imaginary Libraries

I was asked recently to write a response piece to an article written by one of my CMDC colleagues John Barber. John is a Richard Brautigan scholar and has recently proposed creating a digital archive in the spirit of the library described in Brautigan’s The Abortion: an historical romance. My response focused on three questions. What was the essential nature of Brautigan’s library? Is this a sound model for a contemporary digital archive? Is John’s proposed archive both in keeping with Brautigan’s model and a practical solution for today’s archival needs? Our pieces will be published in a upcoming issue of Hyperrhiz.
Read More