A Critical and Skeptical Overview of Electronic Publishing and Librarianship: Notes from the United States
||A Critical and Skeptical Overview of Electronic Publishing and Librarianship: Notes from the United States
||Electronic Publishing '97 - New Models and Opportunities: Proceedings of an ICCC/IFIP conference held at the University of Kent, Kenterbury, UK, April 14-16 1997/ Edited by Fytton Rowland and Jack Meadows / ISBN 1-891365-00-2
||Electronic publishing presents the most fundamental challenges to the practice and the values of librarianship. If there is to be a meaningful partnership between electronic publishers and libraries in future, then librarians as professionals need to critically review our previous experiences with electronic resources. Such assessments however, have been in short supply because of the enormous hype of the 'Information Age' and pressure to bring libraries into this new era.The United States is perhaps the best case study to highlight and review the issues raised by electronic publishing and libraries. It is the country which has invested both broadly and deeply in electronic resources in libraries. Research libraries in the United States are advancing the research on and projects of electronic publishing and document delivery, and smaller libraries are counting on these systems to expand access after years of constrained budgets. The United States is also the country which has promoted - through both the public and private sectors - the idea and image of an information revolution. In short, libraries and electronic publishing in the United States are seen to have the same future. In this environment, problematic issues concerning electronic resources on libraries are generally not raised or actively discussed by library professionals. Only in the last few years have a small minority of scholars and librarians begun to actively raise practical and theoretical questions concerning electronic resources in libraries. A critical review of those issues concerning the nascent electronically-published products (e.g. e-journals, CD-ROMs, remote databases) currently in United States libraries includes:1. Preservation. Libraries traditionally collect and preserve the scholarly and documentary record of publishing. Electronically-published materials required a new approach to document security since digitally-edited records are much more difficult to trace in their changes (unlike print). Further, individual libraries which purchase 'copies' of electronically published works will be required to convert those documents to new systems, or maintain old hardware to provide access to them.2. Economic issues. Budgets are not swelling, yet information outlets (and the demand for those products) are. Price and fee structures of electronically-published works are different for libraries. The end result of different collecting patterns and the imposition of fees have broad consequences for equity of access and the skewing of content in libraries.3. Print resources. Electronically-published texts are intellectually different than printed sources, and those differences will critically affect how patrons approach information, how libraries organize it, and how it is packaged and promoted. The paper concludes with recommendations for librarianship in approaching forthcoming initiatives in electronic publishing.
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