Posting to Autocat
Brian Briscoe wrote:
But Jim, some patrons DO care where the information is located. Public libraries frequently have users looking for information and they need to use a book. I am thinking mostly of students, but they are not the only ones who, for one reason or another, want information that is local.
I’m not really sure what you mean here. If, by “local” you mean “that which is held in the physical collection”, we can do that easily enough now in almost any ILS by limiting to different kinds of physical materials: books, videos, etc. If you mean also, “the digital resources the library purchases access to” you can get the digital books, and the serials as a whole but that is a lot of work to keep up with the current holdings and changes in the aggregators, so this is often outsourced through, e.g. Serials Solutions, but if you want individual articles, as everybody does, you have to search in supplementary indexes and return to the local catalog, use Serials Solutions, or abandon the catalog altogether to search the aggregators separately.
But this is exactly where the very concept of “local” disintegrates today, and we can see it best in Google Scholar. In this search (on my machine!), I have searched Google Scholar for “library metadata” http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=library+metadata&hl=en&btnG=Search&as_sdt=1,5 (I made a screen clip also, since Google results are unpredictable)
The first two hits are into SpringerLink, and my library has no access to it. In the left column, there are the links into SpringerLink, and they ask me for 34 euros for one, and 25 euros for the other (I don’t know why there is this difference). *BUT* in the right hand column are links into free versions of the articles available from Open Archives.
Here we see only a single, very tiny, example of the question libraries are facing today (or at least, what they should be facing): “What is local?” From the patron’s point of view, the open archived ones are just as “local” as anything the library pays for or what is on a shelf.
If it weren’t for Google Scholar providing this–in publishing terms–almost revolutionary display of the free version alongside the pay one (which one would *you* choose?!) many would still be left in the dark. (It also illustrates in graphic fashion how the interests of the scholarly publishers and authors do not necessarily coincide)
Just as illustrative is the Digital Book Index, which I don’t like in many ways, but it does the same thing. Look at the works under Mark Twain:
and you can get 1917 ed. of “A Connecticut Yankee” for free, or pay money to Questia. Again, which one would you choose?
Are these kinds of materials “local”? In my own opinion: in the interests of my patrons, I have determined that there is no choice. They *are* local materials and therefore must be dealt with “locally” in some way. That is a huge decision, but one that I have solved to a certain extent, not through individual cataloging, but through other automated means.