Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Zero-Sum Game or Net Loss?

I'm pondering the following email that I just received from the Cataloging Distribution Service at the Library of Congress:

Beginning January 1, 2008, the Cataloging Distribution Service of the Library of Congress will reduce prices on all MARC Distribution Services (MDS) and for new subscriptions or renewals to Cataloger's Desktop and Classification Web ordered after January 1, 2008. Prices remain the same for all other products for 2008. After its annual review of product prices, CDS was able to reduce product prices because of operational cost savings. These cost savings were realized in part because of lower staffing levels during the previous year.

The email is not clear whether the cost savings are from lower staffing levels just within CDS, or from lower staffing levels at LOC overall. When we're suffering the effects of an erosion of descriptive cataloging services and authority control from LOC, saving money on ClassWeb or the Cataloger's Desktop still seems like a net loss to me.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Wyoming & Theological Libraries Month

I'm just a bit too late for the October 2007 celebration of Theological Libraries Month, but as a native of Cheyenne, Wyoming, I can't resist the following suggestion for next year:

I think that wyominglibraries.org's use of the mud flap girl could be a model for a new TLM logo.

Or perhaps a bit of Western color with the Pry it from my cold dead fingers campaign?

Just a suggestive . . . er, suggestion.

Theological Publishing & Scholarly Publishing

A new report from ACRL, Establishing a Research Agenda for Scholarly Communication: A Call for Community Engagement, is calling for further research on eight different aspects of the current system of scholarly communication. I was intrigued by the following paragraph from section 4, Authorship and Scholarly Publishing:

"When faculty employ and create new forms and techniques, evaluating their work against traditional measures is a particular challenge. Although studies document the conservatism and constraining influence of scholarly promotion and tenure review processes and reward systems, we do not yet have deep insight into how they can evolve to recognize and embrace new forms of scholarship. The problem is acute for the creators of digital scholarship, which rarely enters the formal publishing stream, yet is a creative, scholarly act that can influence and underpin both present and future research. But authorship of these programs is not yet rewarded as a form of scholarly communication of the first order in most disciplines."

My suspicion is that theological publishing is not at the bleeding edge of this process of "creating new forms and techniques", but it certainly is getting there. In faculty committees at our seminary we have already been discussing how to evaluate such contributions as faculty blogging. As a librarian, I am particularly interested in the issue of preserving such new forms of faculty publication. Does anyone out there have a system yet for preserving faculty blogs? Can theological librarians have a voice in influencing the nature of copyright contracts for theological publications? I am glad to see ACRL calling for comment and research in areas such as these, and I hope that theological librarians can be part of the library community that responds to this call.