Saturday, March 3, 2012

Wrapping my brain around two posts, should we step in the way so we avoid the bullet?

I've got two blog posts to think about, and I am not quite sure how they support each other (or contradict each other) but I find both to be very interesting.

One is "Engineers Crashing Our Gates" which is a follow up of the Tennant post "You Never See the Bullet That Takes You Down" (found via Jason).  Essentially, companies and organizations do not see what hit them.  Did Blockbuster not see NetFlix?  Did the Travel Agent Industry not see the Internet coming?  Does Elsevier not see Open Access and Open Science coming? What of Librarianship?

Then, there is this post from Dave Puplett on "Academics must be applauded for making a stand by boycotting Elsevier. It’s time for librarians to join the conversation on the future of dissemination, but not join the boycott."  He notes in the comments section that "I [Dave] really do think Librarians have a huge role in advocating change in Scholarly Communication – please see a previous post of mine here:, or some of my other work: ....  My point is that if the Academic community is ready to use its voice to lead on this issue, it’s time for Librarians (who have been agitating for a long-time here) to joint the choir and not get in the way."

This logic just seems backwards.  Librarians are in the center of this scholarly communication battle, and we had better try to see what bullets are coming our way.  We need to have the best vision possible, hone our karate skills, and try to predict what the others are going to do to attack us.  For librarians to step to the side of the ring and let only the scholars duke it out with the publishers while we watch from the 17th row is plain stupid.  We need to be in the ring fighting for our patrons, fighting for what we do to serve humanity, and fighting to preserve culture and the record of knowledge.

The scholarly community should have a loud voice on scholarly communication issues (Duh), but they can often be focused solely on the authors and researchers and their interests.  The Library community has the interests of readers and undergraduates and staff and other information consumers at heart.  We are there to speak for them.  The librarians and our patrons should not be told to "not get in the way."  In short, we need to insert ourselves so that we can get in the way.  The more we get in the way of publishers and scholars, the less we are in the way of that bullet.

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