I don’t know about anyone else but as a child it was always really exciting when my Dad took us to the library once a week as it meant new stories, new adventures etc. Even as I got older and the web took over a bit more I still got excited about visits to the school library and when we move next month i’m going to get just as excited about adding my new local library’s card into my purse. Likewise I get just as much satisfaction when I log in to City’s library catalogue and have the ability to download a pdf or a book.
Why do I get so excited by libraries (apart from the fact i’m a bit of a nerd?!)? Because they have a wealth of information, information that is mostly free. What isn’t there to love? Granted as i’ve gotten older and appreciate that libraries have more than a fiction section (who knew?!) i’ve learned to love libraries that little bit more. From an academic perspective libraries are a fantastic opportunity to get your own ideas out there. Diane Bell brought it up in her lecture and it was also mentioned in Cathrine Harboe-Ree’s article, libraries now act as online repositories of papers or dissertations. City, for example, has a huge collection of dissertations to peruse – dissertations that aren’t available to access anywhere else unless you attempt to track down the author.
Academic writers have the opportunity to avoid the costs of allowing journals to publish their articles through open access. Library repositories are a perfect alternative, they may not get as many hits as a big journal but they are still achieving the same objective, getting your research into the public domain. I’m all for libraries being a publisher in this way, they are doing what they have always done well which is providing free information. And it’s free not just from a reader’s perspective but also from the author.
The only issue libraries as publishers has is the fact that their readership will be fairly low but that is understandable, libraries have less money to put into advertising their repositories so of course authors won’t get the same response as they would on an academic journal’s site. But this is where the the use of web 2.0 comes in, with the use of social media libraries can really increase their visibility. Look at the British Library, they have nearly 900,000 followers and that is just their main Twitter account. I know the BL are the exception as they are a huge national library but with enough followers on platform like Twitter a library really can get information out there. All it takes for an author is to upload to a free repository, have it tweeted by that library and then once a retweet happens it can spread like wildfire. Visibility is possible when publishing through a library, it just takes a little more patience. Patience that is definitely worth it when you think about the cost and the morals/vision of a library…..