The cluster of issues arising from the case study interviews that is most relevant to the transformation of library practices relate to the issue of publishing. The questions that were asked under this topic were:
The key themes running through people's responses to these questions were the importance of access and the need for archiving.
Typical comments on the theme of access were that publishing is 'making information publicly available' or is 'the act of making information public'. One respondent with a commercial publishing background preferred to talk about shaping raw material into something that the market wanted, and then disseminating that shaped material.
Two of the respondents were reluctant to identify what they did as 'publishing', although the question did not require them to. One felt that publishing required some sort of distribution (which their project did not do), but acknowledged that this was an increasingly problematic distinction to make if one was referring to electronic documents on servers. Another respondent preferred to define the library function as providing access to material that might (or might not) be owned by the library. Both of these respondents evinced a disquiet about using a term like publishing that evoked a range of no longer relevant print associations. Both stated the need for a new word or model to describe what they did. One suggested the term 'digital press', but acknowledged that press had inappropriate and over-physical connotations also.
The other key theme was the need to have a changed view of one's commitment to the content in an electronic world. Once print has been produced and sent out, there is no necessary ongoing commitment from the publisher. In an electronic content environment, there is now the need to provide ongoing access and maintenance. Such maintenance might just be keeping the servers up and connected or making sure that URLs still worked. It might also include adding forward references to existing content or improving the interface. In the longer term, it might extend to migration of the content as the presentation and delivery technologies changed. Most of the respondents expressed scepticism that traditional publishers would take on this responsibility, particularly without an ongoing revenue stream. Most also explicitly identified the library as having had this archiving role in the past and needing to now evolve an equivalent as the technologies change. However, a number stated that there should not be an automatic assumption that the library would perform this archiving function, particularly given the possible costs.
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