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Academic Libraries Challenge

OK, review the following charts.
Total Academic Circulation 1995-2003
Median_Ratio_Circulation_Fulltime_Students.gif
Total Reference Queries 1995-2003
Median_Ratio_Ref_Queries_Fulltime_Students.gif
Library of Congress Reading Room Visits FY 1996 to FY 2004
LoC_ReadingRoom_Visits.gif
The O’Reilly Radar (yes that O’Reilly) has a challenging post here called “If Libraries Had Shareholders” authored by Peter Brantley, director of the Digital Library Federation which represents some interests of the ARL.
I like his final question:
“These are fascinating results. They do not reflect on the total value of libraries, and they surely do not pass judgment on the highly skilled information specialists that staff them. They do suggest that something momentous has changed in the fundamental environment that libraries operate within. And one has to think: if libraries had shareholders, would they, like newspapers, be in the midst of a gut-wrenching, brake-screeching exercise in redefinition?”
I suspect that having a powerful answer to this query will be real important in the next few years.
Do we really know where and how fast digitization and licensing are taking us? When hundreds of millions of books are online (and we have the metaphoric scenario with articles online) soon, are we ready for the sea change.
Stephen
p.s. Note that Public Library use and circulation increased over the same period. I am not even saying it’s correlative, just interesting.

Posted on: July 18, 2007, 7:11 pm Category: Uncategorized