portal: Libraries and the Academy 3.4 (2003) 689-690
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Impact of Digital Technology on Library Collections and Resource Sharing, ed. Sul H. Lee. New York: Haworth Information Press, 2002. Published simultaneously as Journal of Library Administration 35; 3 2002) 127p. $40 hardcover (ISBN 0-7890-1908-4); $19.95 softcover (ISBN 0-7890-1909-4)
A snapshot of the issues facing libraries in the digital age, this book gives readers a view of how digital formats are changing libraries today. The contrast between the vendor and publisher positions as they attempt [End Page 689] to determine how the market for electronic publications will develop is presented along with a view from the librarians trying to design digital services and collections that incorporate digital technologies. This volume contains eight edited papers from a conference held at the University of Oklahoma Libraries in March of 2001. The editor, Sul H. Lee, is broadly published and is also the editor of the Journal of Library Administration. Overall the papers present a wealth of information on a variety of interesting topics; however, they are not groundbreaking in either their coverage or their ideas. Most libraries, particularly academic libraries, are facing budget questions on a grand scale, but these articles add little to new information to the body of knowledge in this area. Although it is important that proceedings of conferences are shared with the profession at large, most of the papers included in this volume are at best a good summary of the state of the profession and the issues. Few new solutions are offered and once again Haworth Publishing has double-published an issue of a journal, Journal of Library Administration, as a monograph.
Perhaps the best of the eight papers is Paula Kaufman's "Whose Good Old Days Are These? A Dozen Predictions for the Digital Age," in which she offers twelve predictions for the future of digital resources in academic libraries. Several other papers in many ways discuss the status quo. Clifford Lynch looks at the meaning of digital books for libraries without really offering any new alternatives, and the vendor and the publisher articles, although of general interest, break no new ground. Perhaps a better article in this vein is Barbara Baruth's "Missing Pieces that Fill in the Academic Library Puzzle: Cutting Edge Technologies Can Assure Our Place in the Big Picture" (American Libraries June/July 2002, p. 58-60). One article, from the perspective of special collections and their interest in the digital future, lays out the issues but offers little advice. The final article, "Copyright and Intellectual Property Legislation and Related Activities," by Prudence Adler (Associate Executive Director, Association of Research Libraries), does a thorough job of discussing the copyright issues facing libraries; however, because it was delivered in 2001 it did not comment on the results of the Tasini case or the Sony Bono Copyright Extension case. Both these cases have since been decided in the courts.
Many of the issues addressed in the book are timely ones. How will scholars react to digital formats? How will electronic resources change the direction of collection development? Will libraries stop buying print materials or replace them with digital alternatives? Will library portals become the one-stop shopping answer? And will libraries maintain their central role in the university? However, the answers presented by the authors were not new. Perhaps the weakest feature of the collection is the small to nonexistent readings/bibliographies. I would recommend this book as an excellent overview of the state of digital resources in libraries, easy to read and digest, but not as leading edge answers to questions about the impact of digital technology.
Iowa State University