Sunday, October 03, 2004

The Sphere: Where is Our Fundamental Belief?

Heated discussion broke out in the class about the diminishing of the public sphere of information, based on Buschman’s analysis in ‘Dismantling the Public Sphere’, which reveals that a significant shift has occurred from the library as a contributor to the public good to a model where economics dictate.

Everything is becoming cost-sensitive, including information or knowledge. ‘Democracy’ of information is eroding. You’ve got to pay for information that you want. Very interestingly, at about the same time, I was requested by the client to look for FREE online full-text articles. That made me wonder: in what circumstances, do people really pay for information? Or to put it more accurately, how many of us are willing to pay libraries for information?

Recently, I spoke to a library member who used to have a personal subscription to a professional journal (I must say it is THE publication for her field). But she ceased the subscription because it was just too costly. Would it reach a point that this phenomenon becomes a vicious cycle? Nobody pays for the information => High cost of information => Nobody pays for the information = even higher cost of information. How can we then protect the democracy of information??


Blogger Ivan Chew said...

I like this post. True to your blog-name, it made me think and re-think. In the end, I decided to argue that access to information was never free to begin with. Wrote about it in my blog (see "Access to Information & Libraries: It's never free to begin with").

1:31 AM  
Blogger calm one said...

I'm not familiar with Buschman's analysis, but public libraries have never been free; someone has to foot the bill, and in most cases it's the government. Library economics should never be looked at in just a micro level; the library is just a piece in a greater puzzle of a society's education and learning.

11:09 AM  
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