Questions for Monday
Rubin: Information Technologies
- Copyright eInfringement?
Given the restrictions placed on the flow of information by copyright laws, what is the realistic possibility for the networking of information? How can we as librarians make this possible without violating the law? How do the "rights management" or "access management" concerns of publishers affect the library that wants to "go digital"? How do we reconcile the obligations to the public and to the copyright holder?
- Digital Disenfranchisement?
Rubin writes that "the Internet is far from being conveniently accessible from everywhere" in terms of social and economic barriers. How do digital libraries accommodate those without access? According to the article, 95% of people live near a place where internet access is possible, but how many of those people have it in their homes? For those who don't, how convenient is the access? How is the digitization of libraries connected to the technological state of the community that the library serves? What should be in place in a community before the library that serves it goes fully digital? If a patron cannot afford paid access required by Rights Management to digital content at a public library, how do we ensure that they will have access equality?
- Digital Collections: Better Than Physical?
Rubin distinguishes between an actual physical library and a library collection and often appears to argue for the value of digital library collections. Do you agree with Rubin's assertion that digital library collections are far more convenient and cost effective or do you see more value in physical libraries that are both expensive to maintain and have inconvenient hours? Do you believe public libraries are underutilized due to their business hours?
- Esoteric Information Without Support?
Rubin touts the leveling quality of digitally-available information, saying that "information once available only to the professional is now directly available to all." However, is it an unambiguously good thing to give people unassisted access to esoteric information (for example, legal, financial, or medical) without a knowledgeable intermediary to help them navigate and interpret it? Can you imagine situations where we might actually do harm by setting people lose on information without guidance? On the other hand, given that the genie is out of the bottle on all of this, are there ways that LIS professionals and other professionals can make their help and guidance more easily accessible?
- Implications for Searching?
Rubin discusses different models of digital information searching. What are the advantages and disadvantages of keyword searching vs. subject searching? Rubin also writes that some people today believe that manual card catalogs have some distinct advantages over electronic ones. Do you agree with this statement? If so, what are some of these advantages?
- Affects on Public Libraries?
Arms makes little mention of public libraries in the chapter "Libraries, Technology and People." Instead he focuses more on academic and professional users. How do you think digital libraries will play into the role of the public library? Will they one day replace public libraries completely, as was suggested might happen to some profession-based libraries? What issues of Class does this raise?
- Digital vs. Traditional Librarianship?
Digital libraries have certainly grown out of the Library community, but often the core technological advances have been driven by the Computer Science community at least as much, if not more. Are there unique Librarianship concerns that are not addressed by thinking in terms of information science? How do we address these in an era of digitization? Arms defines "digital library" as a "managed collection of information". How does the concept of "managing" electronic resources differ from the traditional role librarians have played in the past?
- Implications of Military Funding?
In his chapter "Innovation and Research", Arms mentions DARPA as the biggest sponsor of computer science research and therefore in digital library research and he writes that, "ultimately its mission is to support the military." What implications does this have for digital libraries? How might it affect digital libraries in the lives of everyday users, if at all?
- Does the Shift to Digital Change Textual Material? Change Us?
Arms writes that "people do not change because a new technology is invented". Do you agree or disagree and why? What about Arms' statement that "words that are spoken have a different impact from words that are written, and online textual materials are subtly different from either the spoken or the printed word"?
- How Openly Available Is It?
Arms states that most of the "information on the networks has been made openly available, with no restrictions on access". Do you think Prof. Eschenfelder would agree with this assessment? How does an economic/consumer model of the Internet affect access?