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 Opprtunities: Proceedings of an ICCC/IFIP conference held at the University of Kent, Kenterbury, UK, April 14-16 1997/ Edited by John Smith [Preliminary Versions]
||A strong case can be made that electronically published products pose a strong challenge to the practices and values of librarianship, and the United States is perhaps the best place to review and establish this. As I have written elsewhere, the pattern of shifting toward electronically published resources "is the one touted by the vast majority of our library leadership as the essential model if our institutions are to survive" and librarians are under considerable pressure to develop skills to accomodate them.' The challenges posed by these new resources are not "the traditionalbarriers with which we have grappled, such as single usage of a single printed copy or the preservation problems of the codex. Rather, the essence of the shift in our profession is in redefining [it.]"2 This process of redefinition - driven in large part by electronically published resources - is not without serious problems, especially considered in light of the basic mission of libraries. In order to demonstrate this, this paper will proceed from a brief overview of the current technological status of the United States to an assessment of the environment and level of technological development in U.S. libraries. This will establish the basis of the argument that the United States and its libraries are a good case study. The paper will then move on to review three important areas where electronically published resources in American libraries pose a direct challenge to some of the basic ideas and values upon which modern librarianship is based. Thoseareas are preservation, the new economics of information purchasing, and intellectual differences between print and electronic resources. The paper will conclude with a summary analysis of these trends in American libraries.
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