Posting to Autocat
Concerning whether people will be willing to pay to access materials on the web when they have the choice of free alternatives will have to be seen. The NY Times has also decided to start charging people starting sometime next year. They may be right, or wrong. Only time can tell. And a lot depends on the kind of new tools that are made.
For example, I looked up in the latest Rolling Stone, and found that there is a review for a new album “Here Lies Love.” But in Wikipedia, there’s a lot more information with some good links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Here_Lies_Love. There’s a link to the Rolling Stone review, but would it bother people terribly if the link just didn’t exist? They probably wouldn’t even notice it. Also, as I have pointed out before, how popular will sites such as Google News become: http://news.google.com/ where you get more choices than you can deal with. If one site doesn’t let you in, there will always be another.
I also think that that article in The New Republic, “Toward a new Alexandria” is fabulous and right on target. I think it points in some important future directions for libraries, but who knows what will happen?
But one thing I do know. All of these established organizations are trying to convince the public that they are doing a better job because they are “professionals,” but it has been shown that, e.g. the New York Times hasn’t been so great for several years. There may be lots of reasons for that, but I know that I for one, won’t subscribe because I don’t think it will be worth it. And yes, before you ask, I do subscribe to some magazines online now. That makes it very difficult for these organizations, and I confess that I feel exactly the same worry for libraries. But whatever happens, it won’t stay the same for, “the times, they are a-changin'”