Research Librarians Discuss How to Sell Scholars on Open Access, and More

On a Chronicle article at:

Seen from another side, the information world is going through changes the likes of which none of us has seen before, and to me, it is similar to a sci-fi movie I have imagined. In this, people are living at the end of the age of the dinosaurs, after the comet has struck and it is becoming increasingly clear that the dinosaurs are dying, while the smaller mammals are going to survive.

But the people are advocates for the dinosaurs, so everyone works frantically, trying to save the dinosaurs in Frankenstein-like fashion by grafting parts of the mammals onto the dinosaurs. The final products, which die anyway, are hideous beyond description. To me, this illustrates the information world we are creating.

The era that is based on an economic model that makes money by selling copies of intellectual creativity is coming to a close. The technology is not going away but will only become easier, faster, and more widespread. It is based on creating copies quickly and easily. I don’t think anyone is suggesting that this will change.

Grafting new parts onto the old model is not working and is only creating things that nobody wants, not the author, not the publisher, not the librarian, and least of all, the consumer.

We must remember that there were other economic models before the printing press, and lots of authors, painters, dramatists, made very nice livings and their products were as great as any today without copyright. It is a new world, and the old world wasn’t that great anyway. Some old favorites may completely disappear, e.g. I am a librarian and I’m not sure how libraries will fare in the new world. I think they are important, but we must adapt, and show the same ingenuity of the mammals of old, to fit into this new world. Other agencies will have to adapt as well.

Still, I think so far, the world of books is handling the change better than the world of music.