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Goodbye to all that: Disintermediation, disruption and the diminishing library.

Ball, D. and Spencer, C., 2011. Goodbye to all that: Disintermediation, disruption and the diminishing library. In: Turner, C., ed. Online Information 2011: Proceedings. London: Incisive Media, 125-130.

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The librarian’s role in collection development is being eroded through disintermediation. A number of factors are contributing to this: • With the Big Deals for e-journals power has shifted considerably in the publishers’ favour, and libraries’ freedom to make collection development decisions has been curtailed. If the trend towards national deals and block payments, seen for instance in the Scottish Higher Education Digital Library (SHEDL), continues, this freedom will be eroded even more; acquisitions decisions are increasingly made at the level of publisher rather than title. • A notable response to the power of the publishers’ monopoly is the open access movement, which aims to make scholarly literature freely available to all. One route is through open access publishing, where typically the author, or their institution or research funder, pays the cost of peer review and publishing. The other route is the deposit of pre- or post-prints of traditionally published materials in the author’s institutional repository or in a subject repository such as Arxiv. The librarian again is making no decisions on availability in collections. • E-book technology has enabled the introduction of so-called ‘patron selection’ or ‘patron driven acquisition’ (PDA). Suppliers of e-books are now offering libraries the opportunity to make available a fund to be spent on new e-book titles as they become popular with library users. PDA is becoming increasingly popular: a recent survey of 250 libraries in the USA showed that ‘32 have PDA programs deployed; 42 planned to have a program deployed within the next year; and an additional 90 plan to deploy a program within the next three years’ ( Librarians are able to impose some restrictions – for instance specifying subjects or ranges of titles; otherwise selection is taken out of the hands of librarians and entrusted to users . Initial statistics show the usage of many titles selected by users to be as high as the usage of titles selected by librarians or academics. • Google’s massive digitisation programme, although currently under legal threat, is another example. In the disintermediated world the librarian’s role is changing. It will in my view become increasingly focused not on externally produced resources, but on creating, developing and maintaining repositories of materials, whether learning objects, research data-sets or research outputs, produced in house in their own institution. Traditionally librarians have sought through the art of collection development to obtain the outputs of the world’s scholars and make them available to the scholars of their own institution – an impossible task. However our role is now being reversed: it will be to collect the outputs of our own institution’s scholars and make them freely available to the world. This task is capable of achievement and attains the aim of universal availability of scholarship to scholars. However it is not collection development as it has been practised down the years in the print world; that art, it can be argued, will no longer be needed in the era of disintermediation.

Item Type:Book Section
Number of Pages:178
Uncontrolled Keywords:Disintermediation; disruptive technologies; libraries
Group:Academic Services
ID Code:18935
Deposited By: Mr David Ball LEFT
Deposited On:02 Dec 2011 15:17
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 13:41


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