In a plenary session at the Charleston Conference this morning, Rick Anderson and T. Scott Plutchak teamed up to discuss issues surrounding Open Access and the potential for that to marginalize institutional libraries.

Anderson suggested that Open Access would threaten library budgets, reducing the funding available to the library. Plutchak referred to the "cognitive dissonance" resulting from, on one hand, librarians being exhorted to promote and encourage OA, while on the other the disruptive changes that may follow if that is successful.

Plutchak characterized this by saying that "the myth we're all fighting" when defending library budgets is that "it's all available for free on the internet", while "the future we're trying to create" is one where "it's all available for free on the internet".

Both speakers promoted a broader view of library activities and an understanding of the core values underpinning what libraries do. Plutchak described those core values
as providing access for all; enabling preservation; and promoting literacy. In Plutchak's view, to continue to promote literacy, librarians need to move from thinking about training users in "how to use the resources in our library" to an emphasis on "how to use resources on the internet".

Anderson also spoke about the continuing need for librarian involvement in information access and the greater need for "discrimination" amongst online resources.

Anderson described three potential new roles for librarians:


  • Moving from being brokers to publishers, e.g. through institutional repositories

  • Contributing to managing local archives and data services, e.g. curating institutional research data sets.

  • Participating in creating virtual journals that tailor information resources for their patrons



Interestingly both speakers strongly recommended librarians look to Peter Morville's book, "Ambient Findability" as a source of inspiration for the future role of librarians.