The Future of Serials Librarians

From: David Goodman <dgoodman_at_phoenix.Princeton.EDU>
Date: Tue, 8 Oct 2002 01:32:52 +0100

On Mon, 7 Oct 2002, Albert Henderson wrote:

> Libraries and librarians support "incoming articles." If
> spending switches to "outgoing articles," libraries
> will be out of business and serials librarians will
> be out on the street.
> Albert Henderson Former Editor, PUBLISHING RESEARCH QUARTERLY 1994-2000

Frankly, Al, I cannot imagine that a scholarly publication system will
ever be simple enough to navigate successfully so that the assistance of
specialists will not be needed.

They'll be needed at two places: First, in the design, operation, set-up,
and continuing meta-data control (this is what has traditionally been
known as technical services).

Second, in the instruction and assistance to users, both by preparing
online help information and more formal guides, and by direct individual
assistance, in person and remotely (this is what has been traditionally
been known as public services).

Whatever their jobs may be called, and whatever the places where they
work may be called, their functions will be needed. They will be needed
especially in the period of transition--I think one of the limiting
factors here is that there aren't enough knowledgeable and imaginative
people to work on the transition. They will still be needed
afterwards--the design of a complex yet obvious system in any domain does
not seem to be within human capabilities.

I am not as sure about the need for much of conventional publishing. The
entire administrative side--the skilled sales, publicity, billing, and
related staff functions may not exist as such. Although I have many
friends in such positions, I am not worried about their employment
prospects--they are eminently qualified to become librarians,
and we will need many more.

Dr. David Goodman
Princeton University Library
Received on Tue Oct 08 2002 - 01:32:52 BST

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