April 1, 2004

Why engage in e-science by Tony Hey is from a recent Update. This is a rather interesting slam article about librarians from what appears to be a CS prof:

'Why do all universities need to keep a physical copy of the Physical Review? Maybe one copy, held by the British Library, would be enough. Libraries get a chunk of money from the funds allocated to the universities by HEFCE. There isn't going to be much new money in universities to access new forms of services so we need to take a hard look at the changing rationale for the existing services. Libraries are in danger of becoming increasingly irrelevant to students in engineering and science. I recognise that these are difficult issues, but it is obvious that things cannot remain the same. Libraries need to engage with the changing IT landscape and rethink what the library needs to do.

'I am not anti-library. I just feel that there are some technological trends that are inevitable. Putting one's head in the sand is no way to approach them. There needs to be a national debate.'

This is just a sample from the very end of the article. It seems to me that Hey hasn't spoken to a librarian -- metadata? Has he heard of Dublin core? digitization? Has he heard of Instititional Repositories? Data? Do you know of a large institution that doesn't have a Data Librarian? It seems to me that virtually every negative point he makes is actually either exaggerated or totally wrong. Has this guy been to his local library in the last 10 years? He mentions that he doesn't think libraries are that relevant to scitech students -- if he'd ask someone would tell him that practically nothing circulates as much as CS books. Electronics books, too. Scitech students use the library a lot. In fact, my (admittedly anecdotal) evidence would suggest that scitech profs are beginning to understand that the library is more relevant to their students now, not less. Sigh. End of rant. I invite comment. From Catherine, who seems much more restrained.

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