Re: Central vs. Distributed Archives

From: David Goodman <dgoodman_at_PRINCETON.EDU>
Date: Wed, 8 Nov 2000 12:30:39 -0400

Departments are not the place, for exactly the reasons John explains. More
than one of the academic depts. in more than one major university I have been
affiliated with has managed to lose unique copies of Ph.D. theses, as well as
every other possible type of item.
I think this is an appropriate role for libraries in two dimensions: each
university library should take the responsibility for all publications by its
faculty and students, AND appropriate major libraries or groups of libraries
could also take the responsibility for specific research areas that are not
being otherwise covered.
If university presses wanted to participate I think most libraries would
welcome the partnership.

The systems are inexpensive enough for redundancy to be affordable, and this
might be one solution to the refereed/nonrefereed controversy. It only
requires adequate cross-archive indexing.

A part of the savings could be used to increase the number of librarians
helping the other members of the university navigate the new system. Most
users need help in navigating the present system (the higher the academic
level the more likely they are to request it, because they know enough to
realize they need it). They will need it all the more during the period of
transition. Nothing in the prior course of human-developed systems gives
reason to suppose they will need it less even after the transition is
complete. (If the AI people think they can compete in this, I encourage them
to keep trying.)

John MacColl wrote:
> Greg Kuperberg wrote:
> > > So should we mathematicians trust individual math departments to
> > > permanently preserve their e-prints? I don't think so. Our own math
> > > preprint series at UC Davis is an arXiv overlay - all articles are
> > > automatically contributed to the math arXiv. One of my
> > arguments for this
> > > arrangement is that we can't promise to babysit these preprints forever.
> > > We could easily forget our obligation.
> Stevan Harnad replied:
> >
> > The Department could easily forget; the institutional library is unlikely
> > to do so. It has a lot of prior practise with stability/permanence! (And
> > it has a good deal to gain from maintaining robust institutional Eprint
> > Archives: The prospects of serials-crisis relief, as other
> > institutional libraries do the same thing, with their own Eprint
> > archives --
> I would concur with this response, and would wish to develop a couple of
> points about why libraries are important in the freed literature scenario.
> Interestingly, the notion of 'forgetting' gives a new dimension to the
> notion of libraries as 'memory organisations'. They are no longer simply
> memory organisations in the sense of storing knowledge, as in a memory, but
> particularly as that knowledge becomes networked they are becoming
> organisers of access, for which function their contribution to their parent
> institution is to understand information structures, sources and
> presentations. This requires that they are memory joggers as well as memory
> fillers. That has always been true, but internet publication has increased
> both the complexity of these structures, and the rate of publication. More
> and more the challenge for academic libraries is to preserve the roles of
> hunters and collectors of knowledge in the age of internet publishing: that
> requires that they take a much more active approach to identifying and
> maintaining knowledge than was required in the age of print, when libraries
> had adapted to the culture of publishers, and had settled into a role which
> was primarily passive.
> But as Stevan says, interoperability in the world of eprint archives has not
> been tried before (and therefore cannot be criticised as the wrong model).
> More than that, it is at present the only model really capable of surviving
> in the world of internet publishing, and it conforms to the way librarians
> see publishing culture moving, which is why the library profession is so
> concerned with metadata - the key to the knowledge structures which are in
> transition. In the passive model, academics and researchers ordered books
> and journals via the library, and the library sought to ensure that the
> material which arrived in the form of physical product was organised
> optimally. Now, we find academics and researchers creating web sites with
> links to internet sources, and themselves interacting with such sources (as
> they will with open archives) without needing to act via the library. Our
> role as librarians is to keep pace with these changes and evolve new methods
> for providing not only 'permanence and stability', but also description and
> classification to ensure that sources are findable by other researchers,
> students and teachers. So - to take Greg's point about centralisation -
> whether an institution wishes to create an open archive for itself as an
> institution, or whether a single department wishes to do it, is a matter for
> them to decide, but either way it is in their interest to let the library
> know that the archive exists, as a knowledge source to which access is
> required.
> And the reason libraries are so important to the argument for freeing the
> research literature is because they spend large sums of their institutions'
> cash. A freed research literature will reduce that outlay very considerably.
> And quite apart from the benefits that will bring - to the library as well
> as to other parts of the institution - it will result in a new 'value for
> money' standard for the purchase of research literature, appropriate to what
> Stevan calls the 'post-Gutenberg' age, replacing the economically absurd
> current situation. What should research literature cost, now that print has
> become merely a (deluxe!) option? The library is by far the best-placed
> department of the institution to oversee the transition to that new
> standard.
> John
> -------------
> John MacColl
> Sub-Librarian, Online Services
> SELLIC Director
> Science & Engineering Library, Learning & Information Centre
> University of Edinburgh Tel: 0131 650 7275
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Received on Mon Jan 24 2000 - 19:17:43 GMT

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