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Re: The Library: Three Jeremiads (essay by Harvard's Robert Darnton)

This is a summary of what Darnton has written about elsewhere, 
and there is nothing new here he hasn't said before.

The basic story he tells in Jeremiad 1 is one that he learned 
from me when I was on the staff of Princeton University Press and 
he was a member of its Editorial Board. He learned more from 
those of us who served on the advisory committee he put together 
prior to approaching Mellon with the idea for the Gutenberg-e and 
Humanities E-Book projects. I provide a post-mortem on the 
Gutenberg-e project in an article I published in 2009, which can 
be found here:


You'll also find articles of mine there about "Open Access and 
the Future of Scholarly Communication" (the subject of Jeremiad 
2) and the Google Settlement (the subject of Jeremiad 3).

Note that the problem about which he writes in Jeremiad 1, 
especially the plight of the scholarly monograph, is not in any 
way solved by the proposal he makes for a National Digital 
Library in Jeremiad 3. In fact, the plans to support Gold OA 
publishing of journal articles he applauds in Jeremiad 2 actually 
will further exacerbate the problem for monographs as more money 
is drained away to support journal, but not, book publishing.

I address that problem directly in an article forthcoming next 
month in Against the Grain, where I draw on some practices from 
the past of book publishing--publishing by subscription, 
patronage, and advertising--to suggest how they might be retooled 
to make OA publishing of monographs possible in the future. I 
conclude that article with a suggestion about how the entire 
scholarly career of Robert Darnton could have been funded to 
produce one dynamic, evolving, multidimensional scholarly 
document that hints at the future of what the book could really 
become in the digital age.

Sandy Thatcher

>Darnton, Robert. The Library: Three Jeremiads. New York Review of
>Books. December 23, 2010.
>The introduction:
>"When I look back at the plight of American research libraries in
>2010, I feel inclined to break into a jeremiad. In fact, I want
>to deliver three jeremiads, because research libraries are facing
>crises on three fronts; but instead of prophesying doom, I hope
>to arrive at a happy ending."
>His three jeremiads deal with journal subscription pricing, open
>access, and digitization (including Darnton's call for a Digital
>Public Library of America).
>See: http://bit.ly/f8lNBz for the essay.
>Bernie Sloan