Re: Librarians and the Ginsparg model

From: Albert Henderson <NobleStation_at_COMPUSERVE.COM>
Date: Mon, 11 Sep 2000 18:02:31 -0400

on Fri, 8 Sep 2000 Paul M. Gherman" <Gherman_at_LIBRARY.VANDERBILT.EDU> wrote:

> >I think with increased electronic information whether free
> >or commercial, the eventual costly infrastructure of
> >libraries as we know them today will decrease as will the
> >current number of staff working in libraries.
> My quote above has stirred several comments to the
> contrary, and I am not suprised. I probably should have
> stated the other side of my position.


> The "Productivity Paradox" mentioned by Henderson and
> alluded to by Tennant has been true for computers and
> productivity software up to now. But I think the publishing
> revolution is different - this change is not in productivity
> software, but in the nature of the product we purchase,
> store, preserve etc and deliver to our users. The very
> nature of our project and therefore our mission will
> change. If you look at the entire chain of costs in
> information delivery, the library is a signficant cost
> segment. I think electronic content will allow us to
> change our infrastructure and convert infrastructure
> dollars to information.
> We now subscribe to over 5,000 electronic journals -
> many sit on our shelves in paper, there are check in
> costs to the paper, reshelving costs, binding costs,
> claiming costs, let alone the cost of the shelf itself.
> These costs will eventuall go away, when we have the
> courage to cancel the paper version.
> But the storage and preservation cost will shift to another
> agency, maybe a publisher, maybe another organization
> like OCLC or CatchWord. Our information costs will rise
> as these storage costs are bundeled into the over all
> subscription costs.

> Fewer individuals are entering the library to gain access
> to our collections, as they can access them
> electronically. Fewer individuals are approaching the
> reference desk to ask questions. Well it is time to think
> about how we staff those public service points and reduce
> our costs of running them.

> E-books are just about to hit. We just subscribed to over
> 14,000 of them from netLibrary. With this collection, there
> were no individual title by title aquisitions costs, there will
> be very low cataloging costs, no shelving costs, no
> circulations cost or reshelving costs. We did not have to
> upack them and we will never rebind them.
> Now tell me why in this new environment why the
> "productivity paradox" holds true.

        Studies have showed the library cost of maintaining
        electronic information to be much higher than paper
        on shelves. For example, Lowry and Troll estimated
        that digital storage will cost 16 times as much as print,
        not including costs of training and management. Other
        unresolved economic challenges includes systems obsolescence,
        copyright, global standardization, networking capacity, and
        meeting user needs for access that is seamless and easy.
        [Serials Librarian. 1996 28 1/2:143-169]

        These studies did not take into account the added
        cost of preservation -- recopying and "migrating"
        to upgraded application software formats. In
        short, your "person or persons unknown" defense
        is unacceptable.

        Moreover, considering the infamous shallowness
        of information accessed digitally, I would be
        more concerned about informing patrons of richer
        resources available only on paper.

Albert Henderson

Received on Mon Jan 24 2000 - 19:17:43 GMT

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