Tuesday, September 15, 2009

When paper=Kleenex

Libraries deal with a lot of vendors. Books, databases, supplies - there is always someone working hard to promote their product and save us money. Library vendors, by the way, are a very nice and polite bunch of people.

For context, we received an email from Scientific American with an interesting sales pitch.

"Nature is now offering Scientific American online. The site will be live at the end of October. From 1/1/10 to 12/31/10 SciAm online is $350. This is for unlimited access including remote. If you subscribe before March 31, 2010 you will receive archives back to 1993. If you subscribe after March 31, 2010 you get a rolling four years of backfiles. Subscribe for 2010 before November 1, 2009 and you will get November and December 2009 free.
Archives from 1948 to 1992 are available for $5,000. This is a one time fee."

We would love to go digital for a resource like Scientific American, primarily because it is so easy to search and available with the click of a mouse, which is imperative for student use.

However, $5,000 for scientific archives from 1948 to 1992? That's a lot of money for old scientific information. It reflects the traditional role of libraries to archive information. Is it important for archives like this to exist and remain accessible? Absolutely. Should public funds for educating high school students be spent on archives of the past? Let's put it this way, we no longer have books looking forward to "the day we have a man on the moon." Scientific archives going back more than two years are not a sales hook for the CCHS Library. It is all, as they say, academic. This year we can't afford the print or online subscription for Scientific American anyway!

So, what does this have to do with the demise of newspapers? Google Fast Flip is the harbinger of things to come. It is a very easy to use FREE digital collection of headlines and articles from major U.S. and English language international newspapers. Why pay for paper versions that we also have to recycle, when news content is so readily available? When dollars are in such short supply the emotional connection to paper starts to dissolve like wet Kleenex. ( Insert winky emoticon here.)

Don't get me wrong. I don't hate paper. The bottom line forces really hard choices. At the end of the day it has to be about access to content, and free is free.

Photo Credit:
Flickr Creative Commons

newspaper blackout poem

Uploaded on October 4, 2008
by Precious Roy

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