Content, Services, and Space: The Future of the Library As Lines Blur: A “Neapolitan” Session

by | Nov 8, 2013 | 0 comments

This year, some of the plenaries were run as concurrent sessions and were dubbed “Neapolitan” sessions (and yes, ice cream has been promised for the refreshment break this afternoon).  The first of these sessions was on Content, Services, and Space.

Content, Services, and Space Panel

(L-R) Rick Anderson, University of Utah; Stephen Rind-Tutt, Alexander Street Press; Nancy Gibbs, Duke University Libraries; Heather Staines, SIPX (formerly Stanford Intellectual Property Exchange)

Here are the panelists’ topics.

Panelist Topics

Rick led off and said that in some ways libraries are becoming publishers. Many of them are publishing journals based on content in their repositories.  They tend to become publishers and are digitizing resources that would not have become available.  Libraries are not claiming to be publishers, but they are functioning as a publisher.  Libraries are absorbing presses, as university presses are being moved under the library.  We do not know whether this trend will grow.  The bigger question is whether it should grow, but we do not know the answer to these questions.

Good things can emerge from the merger of libraries and publishing.  It can take business away from publishers.  When libraries start doing publishing on their own, the lines between libraries and publishers are blurring.  When presses move under libraries, the lines do not blur, but their location changes.  The opportunity for libraries is to create value in ways they never have done before.  Changes in reporting lines of presses makes the library better understand the realities of publishing.

Stephen Rind-Tutt said that when everything started going electronic, it was not obvious that these lines would blur.  Libraries are centrally important to this process.  The library at the University of Virginia is in the center of the campus, which gives it the place it deserves.  The library’s value as a codifier of knowledge is coming to the fore.  There is a move away from books and journals towards data and streaming video and music.  The skills of librarians are central to the operation of the university as a whole. 

Librarians and publishers have had to give up much in the past 30 years.  The move to change to something new is difficult but must be done.  There is a huge opportunity to put the library back in the center.  Access, organization, and curation of material have changed.  Learning, data, video, audio is deserving of the attention that has been paid to books and journals.  Publishers and librarians have been dealing with these problems for many years.

Nancy Gibbs said that new types of materials are being requested by library users and selectors; for example, more corporate business products, single Kindle books, specific types of software, and professors’ self-published materials.  How do we evaluate these offerings before buying them?  Previously they went through a publisher’s approval plan.  Now there are many materials that are not reviewed, but users still want these things.  For example, a professor wanted a TED book (which is available only in a Kindle edition) put on reserve.  How should this be handled?  The library purchased several additional Kindles and loaded the book on them.  Then they expanded the content, negotiated to download all TED titles, and put them into their institutional repository.  Students can download the material on any kind of devices.  Some books can only be purchased from iTunes; shorter e-books, and a freely available PDF from a website are examples of materials wanted by library users.  What does the library do?  Ignore these types of material?  How do traditional vendors fit into this new process?

Heather Staines discussed what libraries are doing to increase visibility of content in various silos.  Analytics are available through a variety of channels, and instructors can see whether their students are consuming content or now.  Libraries are becoming involved in MOOCs.  Professor self-published materials are being assigned to classes and this initiative is growing.



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