Friday, August 6, 2010

Paul Courant's talk at OCLC: "Economic Perspectives on Academic Libraries,"

Paul Courant's recent talk at OCLC is now online. It is called, "Economic Perspectives on Academic Libraries," and it is worth a look and listen.

His talk and slide take about 70 minutes. There is a QA video, too. Another 15 minutes or so.

His talk is interesting just to get his perspective as a university librarian (U. Michigan) and as a former provost (also at UM) and as an economist (on faculty at UM).

Summary: A library is a complicated institution, a big nonprofit business that supports the mission of an even bigger nonprofit business. It plays essential roles in the production and distribution of scholarship, which can be understood as an industry. For over a century, a library's focus has been almost entirely on the interests of the local institution and its local value has been almost entirely dependent on it role in sharing the costs of expensive information. However, digital information technology is radically altering the value of that focus and that role. A library is profoundly affected by both the emerging role of the network and by the fact that copying and distribution (of books, articles, etc.) are now very cheap. Courant develops these themes and shares some of his thoughts on the effective and efficient functioning of academic libraries.

There is no transcript to read, but there are 17 slides to view and both and MP3 to listen to and a Webcast to watch and hear.

His blog is at and is called Au Courant.

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