From Ann Okerson, Yale University, firstname.lastname@example.org
[Received March 18, 1998]
Chuck, you asked in NOSPI [no. 205]:
Are we writing into our contracts with primary publishers, secondary vendors, distributors, and aggregator services, protection of the anonymity that is taken for granted when I read a newspaper in the library?
Yes, you bet, we are writing this into every single contract. I don't know which vendor/publishers would have told you this is a non-issue -- they are NUTS or don't deal with librarians about licenses! The consciousness about this matter is very high, at least it is where the licenses are negotiated at a high enough level (possibly less so if negotiated in serials departments or at the individual selector level -- which I think is a *great* mistake). This is a frequent topic with our vendors and between our libraries here in the NE and in our consortial dealings. In fact, next week the world should see a press release and best practices statement from the non-existent, informal group called the ICOLC (International Consortium of Library Consortia). This document will make the security/privacy/confidentiality points, among others.
The difficulty is, of course, that when we access resources
remotely under a contract with all the right confidentiality
clauses, we don't know for sure that the vendor will honour it
100% of the time -- but then I've always said that a large part of
the relationships under copyright or contracts is TRUST. That's
in the end all we have.
From Fred Friend, University College London, email@example.com
[Received March 20, 1998]
As usual Chuck Hamaker prods us into thinking about important
issues. I can only offer two hopes. Firstly, that there will be
so much information about use available that nobody will ever be
able to find anything in it. Thus privacy will be protected and
commercial exploitation frustrated. My second hope lies in
disagreeing with one of Chuck's themes, viz. I do think that
there will be a strong intermediary role for librarians, and I
put my trust in the members of our profession to resist any
dubious use of user information. Chuck is right that we should
pay attention to this in our agreements with publishers. So far
we seem to be pressing publishers to provide us with more
information for management use, and rightly so, but perhaps we
should also insist that they do not release information about our
users without our permission.
From Marc Brodsky, American Institute of Physics, firstname.lastname@example.org
[Received March 30, 1998]
The points raised here are part of the rationale behind AIP's decision not to provide usage data to subscribers, usually institutions, about which articles are used. Of course institutions, e.g., libraries, can do that themselves if they so choose by monitoring the data to and from their institutions.
206.2 HAMAKER RESPONDS TO FRED FRIEND
Chuck Hamaker, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, email@example.com
[Received March 23, 1998]
Fred Friend said: "I do think that there will be a strong intermediary role for librarians..."
Disintermediation is probably the most over-used and least well defined buzzword we've got going now in library land. Part of this is because it's so tied to purely commercial transactions. The Bookseller has an article entitled "An End to Intermediaries" in a recent issue, which points out concerns about the continuing role of subscription agents. Librarians get upset at the term because it suggests libraries don't have a role in the future either and though that is NOT what I meant it is very much, I'm afraid, what some thought I was saying.
I don't think either of these suggestions (about subscription agents or libraries) means very much. I do believe the role of the major players in the serial information exchange is undergoing enormous shifts. Librarians will shift radically from "assisting" by direct intervention to emphasis on creating/employing/contracting for systems that require the least amount of apparent institutional intervention for the users to get what they want or need. But to develop that type of system or systems requires an incredible amount of talent and skill from these "intermediaries." There is no "off the shelf" system that does everything that needs done to get individuals to the information they want; interconnectivity is more myth than reality but is the goal of the intermediaries.
The decision as to what is available "full text" is not even half the decision, just as it is not half the work that goes into getting a book into a library. In fact, content decisions may be the easiest. Access issues, types of indexes, ranking or rating systems, connectivity, verification, authentication, updating links and records -- all those tasks that we take almost for granted in the print environment are yet to be invented or even defined in the electronic environment. Which material is most effectively accessed by "license," by "purchase," or on a "transaction" base; who pays; what format they can actually get (walk away with or download or just read); who notifies libraries or publishers of authentication programs, permissions, collects use data collection and creates interpretations of meaning. These pieces are critical in the electronic environment; these tasks all have to be sorted through as if from scratch.
All of this immense territory is properly the intermediaries' domain. That isn't going away, but the hands-on one-on-one of traditional service may well diminish significantly.
Disintermediation for example, with UnCover's SUMO product is not about getting libraries out of the information provision role. The customized product many institutions are using would not exist without library intervention, negotiation, paying the bills, special interface/instructions, and access or rights decisions. I don't see that role diminishing, but actually increasing. Which options do we need in our particular situation? Are the "purchases" being made justified, or are there better, more cost effective, more efficient means for getting to the information needed? This is evaluative work that individuals cannot do for themselves and vendors and librarians alike will have to join forces to get the job done. What exactly goes into our catalogs (if we still need a traditional-based catalog) to get individuals to information is an ongoing question -- how it gets there, who produces it, what the format is -- all of these issues, too, will take coordination and are properly the roles of intermediaries.
And these functions, from my perspective force "middle systems" to even more involvement with overview, decision making, higher level educational effort (critical thinking skills come to mind as even MORE essential in the electronic environment). Differentiating support by type of material or research patterns, all of these tasks and more are the tasks of intermediaries. Efficient identification of options, implementation, training -- the list is endless but it is NOT the traditional list. So, yes I believe "disintermediation" is the right direction, i.e., the end user neither knows nor cares how that piece of information in that format got to the desktop and the end user is given a variety of appropriate technologies and formats and levels of information to choose from. The intermediaries (unseen and perhaps unknown to the user) have to do their jobs well or "disintermediation" from the user's perspective, won't happen. And the more clunky unlinked, non-current information predominates in environments maintained by "traditional" intermediaries, the more chance those "intermediaries" will lose their place in the future.
206.3 PRIVATIZATION AND SCHOLARLY COMMUNICATION
Paul B. Scott, University of California at Berkeley, firstname.lastname@example.org
[Received March 17, 1998]
I am a graduate student at U.C. Berkeley and I have been doing some research for Professor Randolph Starn on the future of scholarly communication. I have followed with interest some of the debates in the Newsletter on Serials Pricing Issues concerning the future of copyright. I am particularly interested in the idea of universities taking a more active financial interest in the intellectual production of their faculty. I have read in various forums on the internet the complaint of librarians as to how much money they have to spend just to purchase the books and the journal articles of their own faculty.
I am wondering if pricing newsletter readers can assist me in pursuing this issue further. I have not been very successful finding detailed studies, especially empirically driven ones, regarding the amount of money involved in the proposition of universities taking over the copyrights of their faculty, or just a portion of those rights.
206.4 THE FUTURE STRUCTURE OF SCHOLARLY COMMUNICATION: A DEBATE
Ronald Milne, King's College London, email@example.com
[Received April 17, 1998]
There is no charge for this evening, but if you are intending to join us could you please contact:
To subscribe to the newsletter send a message to LISTPROC@UNC.EDU saying SUBSCRIBE PRICES [YOUR NAME]. Be sure to send that message to the listserver and not to Prices. You must include your name. To unsubscribe (no name required in message), you must send the message from the e-mail address by which you are subscribed. If you have problems, please contact the editor.
Back issues of the Newsletter are archived on 2 World Wide Web sites. At
UNC-Chapel Hill the url is: http://www.lib.unc.edu/prices/. At Grenoble the url is: http://www-mathdoc.ujf-grenoble.fr/NSPI/NSPI.html.