Wednesday, December 19, 2007

e-content collections - opinion wanted!

Today, here's a guest post from Chris Armstrong (Information Automation Limited,
"Since OCLC declared about 3 or 4 years ago that ‘users are format agnostic’ and NetLibrary began adding forms of content other than e-books to its aggregation, there has been a growing trend towards ‘eContent’ and e-book aggregators have begun adding anything from journal articles (apparently randomly selected) to video into their
collections. Now (quoted in an article in Research Information by Siân Harris - ) “Springer’s eBooks are integrated on SpringerLink, as Ernst explained, ‘Researchers care if information is relevant and trustworthy, not whether it is in a book or a journal.’ Similarly, Wiley’s science and technology books are part of Wiley InterScience and Elsevier’s science and technology books are part of its ScienceDirect platform. ‘If researchers are looking for a specific topic on ScienceDirect they will be given results in journals and books, both the latest news in journals and the substantial body of reference in books,’ said Ellen de Groot, senior product manager for ScienceDirect at Elsevier”. Dave Nicholas (UCL) talks of ‘walled gardens’ of secure, high quality resources, each from a single trusted source.

"I have been fighting a rear-guard action against this reductionism with little effect. I feel that scholars do not search so vaguely, and are not helped by being presented with such an odd admixture of resources. I do recognise that it may be nice to have everything in one place, but since, for example, the journal articles in the mix do not represent a comprehensive or even near-comprehensive subject collection, this is not really much of an argument. I do not think that it is really helpful to libraries either.

"My reason for this posting on this blog is to try and collect some feelings from practitioners about whether vague collections of eContent are a ‘Good Thing’ or whether e-book aggregators should stick to e-books. In Information Literacy terms are users, scholars and readers being helped or disadvantaged by such supra-aggregation?"

If you have views, please do comment here!

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