There is a growing rift between those who believe the library’s most fundamental purpose is to support and advance the goals of its host institution and those who believe the library’s most important role is as an agent of progress and reform in the larger world of scholarly communication. Although these two areas of endeavor are not mutually exclusive, they are in competition for scarce resources and the choices made between them have serious implications at both the micro level (for the patrons and institutions served by each library) and the macro level (for members of the larger academic community).
The tension between these two worldviews is creating friction within librarianship itself: as tightening budgets increasingly force us to choose between worthy programs and projects, there is growing conflict between those whose choices reflect one worldview and those who hold to the other. How this conflict plays out over the next few years may have significant implications for the scholars who depend on libraries for access to research content and for the publishers and other vendors for whom libraries are a core customer base.
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