Tuesday, October 2, 2012

ACS, blogging, and decorum in librarianship

I'm finally catching up with the fracas surrounding the decision made by the SUNY Potsdam library's to forgo the American Chemical Society's full package (summarized nicely by Andy Woodworth in his blog, Agnostic, Maybe).  I must admit that I'm a bit taken aback by the vitriol that has developed via the chminfo-Listserv - not displeased, mind you...more like...inspired.  I'm also hopeful for our profession and the future of academic libraries.

It has been apparent that the large-scale (and pricey) publishers of content have appeared to consider librarians as not relevant to the decision-making process.  We are, instead, referred to our faculty, to whom much of the advertising is directed.  The e-book fracas is another example, with some publishers discounting the role that libraries play in the marketing and distribution of their content.  I'm proud of those in my profession who are starting to make decisions to reject the constraints and prices that have become "the new normal".

I'm hopeful that this difficult period of economic downturn will have an unintended effect of strengthening the resolve of librarians.  We now have an air-tight, non-negotiable, out-of-our-hands reason to have the big deals and sacred cows on the table.  As our budgets have been cut into the bone, we librarians have been working with faculty to explain the situation and come up with solutions that result in cancellations of journals, even the "sacred cows".  Will their world come tumbling down?  Will faculty revolt and leave institutions?  Will students not be learning as much? Possibly...but the choices have become quite limited.

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