Monday, September 24, 2007

No tickee, no library

The Firestone Lounge?
People often say, "But everything's available online." This is false. As a test, I decided to check out the online availability of the secondary sources in two recent papers of mine (never mind the primary ones in languages like Hittite). In one, on the linguistic and poetic implications of a newly recognized word in Ancient Greek, I cite 65 references: 41 books or chapters in books, not one of which seems to exist in full in virtual form, and 24 articles from 15 different journals, only four of which are on JSTOR or otherwise electronically accessible. And as for the 124 items in the other paper, which cites almost entirely different things in the course of solving a longstanding problem of Indo-European verbal morphology, all 86 books are absent from cyberspace, and only five of the 38 articles (from 22 different journals) can be read electronically.
In my conversation with Bruce Heterick, Director of JSTOR's Library Relations, he'd noted the possibility that JSTOR could pave the way for more Starbuckses where library stacks used to be. If the Firestone becomes a lounge, c'est la vie princetonienne. More materially in ways we have yet to see, just as USia has fallen behind Korea, Iceland and Belgium (see Table 1) in broadband access and services, the movement to expand the available sources of information and knowledge is also in danger of being stalled. Once again, the corporate appropriative handling of intellectual property in USia -- the system now in place, the system inhabiting our understanding, our legal system, our libraries and academies and "fourth estate" entities as well as the public access to government documents -- is jeopardizing the development of an open society of online resources and therefore access to human knowledge.

Already in certain fields, as noted above, JSTOR's resources are a minor blip -- even so, relatively few of us are able to agree that any of the JSTOR articles Prof. Katz is talking about "can be read electronically."

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9/24/2007 4:49 PM  

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