Monday, August 20, 2007

Library 2.0

The loss of the library collection is a troubling thing.

Libraries traditionally collected information and made it available for free. They are more and more relying on for-profit companies in order to provide access to the information that they once stockpiled. I've seen microfilm collections, which were in the library's custody, give way to a subscription system, controlled by a vendor.

This loss of custody reduces an independent organization into a consumer before the whims of the vendor. As information gets older and begins to fall out of copyright - custody becomes de-facto ownership. The information may be public domain, but the owners of the copies of it have no obligation to provide it to the public other than under their own terms.

With the libraries not having copies of their own, that effectively pushes the ownership of our collective histories into the hands of the for-profit archivists.

I have a similar conspiracy theory about In 75 years or so, whatever the copyright term is these days... they will own the only copy of... the entire Internet circa the year 2000.

Loss of the collection is also *trusting* that other people will decide to keep their version. When everybody trusts everyone else in this way you suddenly find yourself in a position where no copies of something exist any longer.