Tuesday, October 26, 2010

FW: [open-bibliography] Library support and REST

Posting to open-bibliography
Christopher Gutteridge wrote:
<snip>
OK. Open is very important, but most people won't do extra work for the common good. I prefer carrots to sticks, but maybe appealing to librarians isn't the only approach...
Peter Murray-Rust wrote:
> I had hoped to find some feeling among libraraians that they cared about this but I haven't seen any - I've blogged, tweeted, etc. and I know these get around.
It may be that individual libraries don't feel they will see the return on investment of the training in new techniques, retooling of data and risk of changing their licenses.
</snip>
My own opinion is that most libraries are extremely bureaucratic places, and that the very concept of "time" in a library environment is much more akin to geologic eons ("You can't change that! That precise matter was discussed at a meeting between the Head of the Library and the Dean of the Faculty in 1965, and it was decided that....") Comparing this attitude to our normal idea of time, and especially to the hyper-fast idea of time on the world wide web, where anything from 2 years ago (or less) may as well have come from the Assyrians, we can begin to understand the problems.

Also, I believe that matters have changed so much for libraries since the WWW, and that reference questions have declined drastically; libraries have already lost the science, technology and mathematics people, the social sciences are leaving, all that is left is the humanities, and now with the budget cuts, I don't know if the problem is that librarians don't care or if they are just terribly depressed, feel they have no control over anything, and prefer to look away.

I was personally hoping that open source and the entire open movement would be the key to excite the field of librarianship again, since I personally believe the open movement is exactly where librarianship belongs, but it hasn't seemed to happen. Libraries (as opposed to individual librarians) are highly conservative and consequently very slow to change. It seems that in the present time of decreasing budgets, even more conservative movements and a real retrenchment may be what is in store for us. I can only hope not.

Yet, if the field of librarianship were to get behind the open movement (and some libraries and librarians are, to be fair), it would be a tremendous advance. I guess this is a rather abstract statement though, and what is needed are some real prototypes where administrators can see the possibilities.

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