EVOLVING ECOLOGICAL NICHES: TECHNOLOGICAL CHANGE AND THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE LIBRARIES ROLE IN PUBLISHING
||EVOLVING ECOLOGICAL NICHES: TECHNOLOGICAL CHANGE AND THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE LIBRARIES ROLE IN PUBLISHING
||Proceedings of an ICCC/IFIP Conference "Towards the Information Rich Society" held at the Central European University, Budapest, Hungary 20-22 April 1998/Edited by Fytton Rowland and John W T Smith. Washington D.C.: ICCC Press, 1998, 286 p. ISBN: 1-891365-02-9
||Print has been the most significant scholarly communication technology for the last three hundred years (at least). Kaufer and Carley's Ecology of Communicative Transactions analyses print communication in ecological terms. This paper applies this perspective to the changes now occurring in scholarly communication. The theory of punctuated equilibrium proposes that evolution of new species occurs both in bursts and in response to changes in environments. Rapid changes in the scholarly communication environment have occurred over the last fifty years, and most particularly since the rise of the Internet. Viewing the Internet as a new ecological niche, this paper looks at five university libraries that are redefining their roles in the scholarly communication ecology. They are acting as facilitators for electronic scholarly publishing rather than just as access points for content created by others. The five projects (Highwire Press, Internet Library of Early Journals, Project EDUCATE, Project Muse and the Scholarly Communications Project) all demonstrate different organizational models, funding sources and types of content. In interviewing project team personnel, two clusters of issues emerged related to libraries and their changing roles. With respect to the nature of publishing, most respondents emphasized access and the need for an ongoing commitment to content. With respect to the libraries role, all saw their activities as consistent with their responsibilities to their user communities; they saw no barrier to libraries moving into electronic publishing. The past of our planet can give us pointers to how changing systems might respond now. Past episodes have been characterized by rapid diversification followed by a locking in of a few choices. We are currently seeing a rapid development of new species of scholarly publishing artifacts, with some being selected against and disappearing. Will the next decade see a return to stasis?
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