Tuesday, September 10, 2013

@jessamyn on libraries & publishers

Age: 39
Position: community-technology librarian at the Randolph Technical Career Center, in Randolph, Vt.
Claim to fame: Runs Librarian.net, one of the most popular library blogs on the Internet.
Of course it should change. When you do the numbers, librarians have this incredibly insane, crazy amount of purchasing power. Who buys all those scholarly publications that scholars create in order to get tenure? Libraries do. Who else? No one -- or almost no one. So libraries are this big dumb market for a lot of this material, and I only mean dumb in that I don't think they're aware as a homogenous group of just how powerful they are.… You wouldn't think then that they would be on the butt end of all of these terrible, terrible licensing agreements with any nonprint information that they buy from publishers, and yet they still are. I think what we are seeing is publishers of print are trying hard as hell to not make as much print anymore, because paper costs real money and electrons don't.
We're only seeing a couple really clueful people enter the marketplace, and we're seeing a lot of the same tired old you'll-buy-it-because-you've-always-bought-it business model.… I'd like to see libraries take more of the upper hand in terms of buying some of these products that reflect the actual purchasing power they have as a giant buyer of things, and less of, "Oh, my gosh, Elsevier gave us this contract, … but it's got all these restrictions, and what can we do?" Well, tell them to stuff it, and tell them to come back with a better contract. Theoretically we have the power to do that.
Carlson, S. (2007). Young Librarians, Talkin' 'Bout Their Generation. Chronicle Of Higher Education54(8), A28-A30.

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