Re: Commentary on Eco: "Authors and Authority"

From: David Goodman <dgoodman_at_PHOENIX.PRINCETON.EDU>
Date: Wed, 13 Mar 2002 22:33:30 -0500

We seem to differ in the emphasis we give to two principle areas, though
we both recognize their importance.

1. I do not think you give sufficient recognition to the difficulties of
intellectual access as compared to physical
2. I think you give too great value to "peer-review" as a marker of

I think neither the traditional library and indexing tools adequate to the
first; ditto for the current Web programs, though I think they come
nearer. And I think the markers of what
is worth reading, by whom and at what time, are more subtle than you
realize. I and other librarians (and teachers know them), and can teach
them by example, but can't really formalize rules.

Fortunately, the first step of providing physical access is a relatively
straight-forward one once we can get it separated from the inapplicable
concepts of commercial value and tradition. I have spent most of my career
facilitating physical access for a small group, and am glad that the
methodology now exists to solve this, not just for those at research
universities, but for everyone. So I am as impatient as you to get the job
done, and move on to the things we don't yet know how to do.

The great virtue of your scheme compared to those proposed in the past few
years by Varmus et al., and still being proposed by various
semi-commercial organizations, is that it is quality-neutral. It works
equally well for conventionally reviewed material as for those
non-conventionally evaluated.

Just for the record, the Astrophysical Data System provides
free intellectual
access to most of astronomy, but physical access to documents is sometimes
still price-limited. It is a model of organization and access, but not
(yet) of the removal of commercial barriers.

Dr. David Goodman
Research Librarian and
Biological Sciences Bibliographer
Princeton University Library 609-258-7785
Received on Thu Mar 14 2002 - 11:38:25 GMT

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