Information wants to be free…but it ain’t (Part 2)

As a librarian I am often asked what its like to work in a profession that many believe will become obsolete due to the rise of the internet. I firmly believe that libraries will remain relevant for many reasons (the freedom to read, as institutions that support and build communities of practice and well being, as resources for business research and as business partners, and more), but one of the biggest reasons being that information is now a commodity that is bought and sold, often at a steep markup. The amount of information the library provides access would cost each individual millions of dollars. Don’t believe me, take a look at George Monbiot’s editorial from the UK newspaper the Guardian entitled Academic publishers make Murdoch look like a socialist. Editorials often employ hyperbole to emphasis their arguments, but as someone who works in an academic library, I will testify that George is barking up the right tree on this one. Monbiot hits on a number of important points: information monopolies, the surrender of rights by information creators (i.e. giving it away for free), the impact and exorbitant cost of highly rated journals, and what he calls “economic parasitism”. Please give it a read, and then ask yourself this: Are you ready to pay $31.50 for each and every article you read while pursuing your degree? If your answer is no, then you have a reason to support and use your library!

P.B.

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