Thursday, January 03, 2008

Michael Hart lists his predictions for the top inventions of 2008 . Among the items that Mr. Hart lists, he lists virtual reference as a great invention of 2008, predicting that libraries won't limit their reference emails to only residents in their service area. It would be so cool if this could be true everywhere. Unfortunately, the publishers site license agreements on most eresources specifically limit their use to a recognized collection of users. If someone emailed our library for a copy of a journal article, we would have to ask them to visit the library in person to get the copy - not allowed to copy and redistribute items outside of our recognized service population. Free stuff - can do and we do it all the time, and we would help anyone. Proprietary databases - can't do it, or can't do it easily, or suffer penalties and who knows what else.

Our library tried virtual reference way back in 2003, but found it was a hindrance to our users, rather than a help. A research article came out of our experiences: One Library's Experience With Virtual Reference . But maybe we need to revisit the concept?

Mr. Hart is the founder of Project Gutenberg, and (from the bottom of the article) "a cofounder of The World eBook Fair [], is credited with the cofounding of the Open Source movement as well as being a pioneer by example of how the Internet should be."

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