Re: [NGC4LIB] National Digital Public Library (was: Bill Clinton: Create Internet agency)

On 05/23/2011 11:07 PM, Eric Lease Morgan wrote:

I believe a national digital library can be successful sans the inclusion of licensed material.


Bravo! I completely agree, only I would add an additional point: “a useful national digital library”. A tool like this will obviously grow and evolve. Creating something that linked to *reliable* resources in a quick and easy way, plus resources that are *free* would clearly be popular with each and every person on the face of the earth. In business thinking, a resource with that many “eyeballs” would be very attractive and allows many options. There are millions and millions of these things, many of excellent quality and many others of the same quality as you will find in the copyrighted materials.

Certainly it would be nice to include copyrighted materials, but if a tool for free resources began to get popular, I have no doubt that the copyright holders would want their share of those “eyeballs” and come to you. I keep referring to a paper by Marcia Bates “Improving User Access to Library Catalog and Portal Information” written some time back, but it seems to continually make more and more sense. She writes:

“Principle of least effort.

Probably the single most frequently discovered finding on information seeking behavior is that people use the principle of least effort in their information seeking. This may seem reasonable and obvious, but the full significance of this finding must be understood. People do not just use information that is easy to find; they even use information they know to be of poor quality and less reliable–so long as it requires little effort to find–rather than using information they know to be of high quality and reliable, though harder to find. Research on this behavior dates at least as far back as the 1960s, when a major study demonstrated that physicians tended to rely on drug company salesmen for drug information, rather than consulting the research literature. (Coleman, Katz, & Menzel, 1967). Poole reviewed dozens of these studies in 1985 (Poole, 1985); Mann has a more recent review (Mann, 1992).”

This completely reflects my own experience of my patrons’ behavior as well as (I confess) my own. Make it easy, make it free and you make something that the public will love.

I hated that movie, but in this case I really believe it:
“Build it and they will come”