Ramblings, citations and "brainwaves" of a college librarian in Toronto. 475 square feet refers to the size of my home, not the size of my office or library.

Why Libraries Are Doomed! Part 1.

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Meredith Farkas has me thinking...

(me, not Meridth speaking)
Before the digital age, buying a item or subscription, was easy for libraries. Digital licensing changes the power relation completely. Vendors no longer need to sell to libraries at all. They can choose to embed exclusively licensed marquis titles in big expensive collection sets. Imagine if you went to the supermarket and wanted to buy an apple and the rule was, if you want say a Royal Gala, you have to buy one of each apple they sell? Maybe you would not buy that apple. Libraries are doing the same thing today. Where in the past they would have bought a book or journal when someone requested it, they no longer can given the strings attached and financial extortion taking shape. We are seeing a big re-set (as Daniel Pink would say) in library land, where big libraries distance themselves from the small; academic distance themselves from public and vice versa depending on the genre; and publishers by omission or design begin to bypass libraries to increase sales direct to consumer or limit technology and/or licensing expenditures. While we have an exposion in open access titles we also have more and more titles stopping print publishing and moving to one user, one login, online only access. If there is no technically possible communal access, the title is lost from libraries.

While the great recession has inundated libraries with users, as libraries begin to loose access to content, the masses will flock to online retail, underground online sharing networks or worst case, choose not to consume content at all. Aggravation can drive anyone to other pursuits.

Optimists will say libraries are getting cool again with all the ebook, online video offerings, but when book publishing revenue begins the big contraction, like the music business had, will they keep selling their content to libraries? or take a plug the dam approach and cut us off completely? Music did...we used to buy CDs, can we license collections of popular music for our patrons?...nope. Ditto feature films. I hear the buzz of Stephen King's "The Langoliers"...do you?

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