Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Libraries: It is all not all free on the web

Nicholas Joint, It is all not all free on the web: advocacy for library funding in the digital age, Library Review 57(4), 2008. Abstract:
Purpose – To examine the impact on library funding of budget holders' idiosyncratic understanding of three important principles of technological innovation: the more you use a technology, the less staff you need, the better the service becomes and the lower the cost of the service.

Design/methodology/approach – An overview of issues and opinions which inform discussions between librarians and administrators engaged in decisions about budget-setting.

Findings – There are common misunderstandings outside the library community about both the service-enhancing impacts and the costs of “free” digital library technologies and similar innovations.

Research limitations/implications – The issues discussed are primarily practical ones of library advocacy. But their implications have a fundamental impact on the development of library services, which creates a research topic worthy of deeper consideration.

Practical implications – This paper attempts to give practice-oriented insights to librarians engaged in discussions of financial requirements with senior administrators. The assumption is that such administrators may well lack specialist knowledge of libraries, and digital library innovations in particular.

Originality/value – This paper points out that the LIS community's enthusiasm for innovations such as open access may have unintended negative financial consequences for their services. The open access debate should be conducted in such a way as to avoid this outcome.