Why Store?

I’m not sure that the epiphany I had a couple of months back will come across well, being an info pro as I am, essentially speaking to other info pros. Especially when that epiphany brought about another one, even less “palatable.” I’ll risk it and spit out what I need to voice out there.

What was that epiphany about, then? It was about the fact that on a personal (nonprofessional) level I couldn’t bother with actually purchasing music that comes on a physical medium or even, in a lesser measure  it’s true, books — although I suspect that my reserve there stems from the lack of maturity of devices such as Amazon’s Kindle. I have ditched the CD’s and went over to iTunes and MP3 only, even if that means I am held captive by Apple.

But does it really mean that? I think not. There’s nothing stopping me from making business with Amazon or HMV, is there? Money should not be thrown out the window: point taken — and it is one robust argument, but do bear with me. Time will tell. Note however that iTunes makes it possible for you to burn CD’s once you purchased anything from them. So, if you’re bent on laying your hands on something tangible — there you go.

This change of attitude toward owning physical/ digital material has since leaked into my work. Namely: making accessible (electronic) resources — be they articles, reports, and what not —  is part and piece of our jobs, right? But is actually keeping/ storing primary documents in-house part of that too? This is a highly debatable yet sensitive issue as, on the face of it, the equation that one may draw from saying no is that in that case we’re all out of a job.

But I think not. To get the obvious out of the way first thing, let me point out that I firmly believe that libraries the world over must still hold down their role as being nonpareil custodians of the world’s knowledge, which has essentially come in the form of books and other printed materials for ages and I wouldn’t rely only on iPad or the Cloud to convey/ store centuries of human ingenuity.

When it comes to the private sector and more specifically the corporate world, I’m not so sure. Let’s face it Thomson Reuters (ISI Web of Knowledge seems quite stellar, doesn’t it?) or Wolters Kluwer of Ovid fame do a very good job of providing metada records to fulltext and companies such as Infotrieve can even store your purchased materials for  fee, getting out of the way the painful and ubiquitous question of copyright.

I even guess Infotrieve actually makes excellent use of the best of the best catalogers out there too. We’re absolutely not out of job, are we? How about those so inclined reposition and remarket their skills as metadata pros?

To be well done cataloging in an enterprise needs human clout and considering the job market outlook these days, that is not happening — the reverse is the rule. I would certainly advocate for retooling information centers’ human resources for value-added tasks such as bibliometrics or CI monitoring. May sound like the same rehashed stuff. It’s more a call to arms, really.


~ by iinformationvoyager on March 29, 2010.

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