ATG Hot Topics 2/5/16

Erin GallagherBy Erin Gallagher

It’s been a banner week for hot news.  Here in Florida, we’re being overrun by residential anacondasAs a nation, we once again forced some poor, unsuspecting groundhog to amuse a bunch of men in tall hats (What if it’s cloudy?  No shadow?).  And it was James Joyce’s birthday on February 2nd.  If Joyce saw his shadow, did it mean a long, hard winter was ahead in Ireland? 

It’s also been a great week for library blogs.  Check out Barbara  Fister’s post in Library Babel Fish on Creating an Infrastructure for Open Access.  She discusses the Open Access Network’s (OAN) model for a potential sea change in academic publishing.  I believe that those of us in the library world should support ambition, and I always appreciate Barbara Fister’s posts, but I’m not sure if I share her optimism here.  Call it negative bias, but I believe we’ll be living in a “parallel universe” with traditional journal publishing well beyond 2018.  I also wonder about how choices will be made regarding OAN’s plan to shift content production from the current model to “open everything”.  She mentions, “…the idea is for all institutions of higher learning, regardless of size or mission, to contribute to a common centrally-managed fund which will disburse resources to publishers – societies, university presses, and others – to pay for the publication and preservation of research.”  Who gets to go first?  How will resource disbursement be determined?  Who will manage this central fund?  And who is to say the publishers will want to be involved when it’s higher education institutions holding the purse strings behind their publication and preservation costs?  I’m not saying that these questions alone negate the work being done or the spirit behind it, but the plan seems nebulous at best.  I wonder if the smaller initiatives she mentions (Knowledge Unlatched, Lever Press, Open Library of Humanities) need time to run, allowing us to work out the kinks and determine their sustainable value, before we throw our support behind such a far-reaching plan.

I also recommend Lorcan Dempsey’s post this week on The Facilitated Collection.  Lorcan discusses the transition from facilitating collections based on print logic (buy print books; physically store them) to network logic (facilitate research needs in a variety of ways).  I really appreciate the mention of the “collections spectrum” and “collections as service”.  We’ve been moving away from traditional “collections as physical things” for some time now, but it’s hard for many librarians and information professionals to come to terms with this transition.  What are we if not curators of print materials that our users can’t get anywhere else?  Maybe we need to think of ourselves as human global positioning systems (GPS) for the information superhighway. 

Finally, I can’t tell if this is real or if we’re all being punk’d.  Is Amazon really pulling the most ironic move in bookselling history and opening brick-and-mortar bookstores?  Yay? 


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