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This excellent presentation was done by two librarians at NCSU: Scott Warren, the Assoc. Director of the Textiles Library and Engineering Sciences and Kim Duckett, Digital Technologies and Learning Librarian.

What they have done is to expand on our discussion of the economics of information and scholarly publishing for an upper-level english class on communication in the sciences. Here’s what they do:

  • Want to convey to students that their tuition $$ goes to things that the general public cannot afford. They are privileged by their association with an institution and a library and that can give them a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
  • Focus on Discovery (what Google Scholar is for) and Access (what the library pays for)
  • Find that students who run into a fee from a Google Scholar link move on to something else until they find something for free.
  • They focus on discussing with the students WHY articles, journals and databases cost money — the library is a business — we purchase these things on their behalf (and with their money)
  • They provide a larger context to peer review discussion including rejection rates, page rates, ‘not all journals are created equal,’ royalties, ownership, etc. to give them a sense of the culture of scholarly publishing, not just the process
  • Ask Why can publishers charge so much? and Why do we pay it?
  • Ask If we pay so much, do you think the publishers are giving it away for free on the web??
  • Kim uses a great deep web metaphor to explain how Google scholar works vs. online databases

While we already do some of what they are doing in our LIB100 classes — this encouraged me to give it more context — business models make sense to students (they pay, for example, for iTunes songs) so work with that. Especially for our LIB200 classes, this discussion becomes even more important to have.

Good metaphor: the journal is the CD, the journal article is the MP3 of one of the songs….