ASIS&T 2006 START Conference Manager    

Competing Information Realities: Digital Libraries, Repositories, and the Commons

Donald Kraft, Edie Rasmussen, Samantha Hastings, Anita Coleman

ASIS&T Annual Meeting - 2006 (ASIS&T 2006)
Austin, Texas, November 3-9, 2006


Scholarly communication today faces unprecedented social and economic challenges coupled with the unbridled promises of new technologies that purport to solve many of its problems. Most of the problems are largely due to the serials price crisis in science, technology, and medicine, but others have also existed for awhile now such as tedious publication delays and criticism of the anonymous peer review process (Bachrach, et al, 1998; Mannheim, 2000). Facilitated by advances in information and communication technologies digital libraries at first (Schatz, et al, 1994; Atkinson, 1996; Harter, 1997), and more recently digital repositories (Atkinson, 2003; Barton, 2003 ) have emerged as alternative scholarly communication and publishing media. Heery and Anderson (2005) provide a review of digital repositories but very simply, digital repositories are unlike digital libraries such as Perseus, in that repositories provide a submission mechanism whereby scholars can deposit an electronic copy of their work at the time or soon after creation. Digital repositories are also called open access archives because of the lack of tolls, fees, or other legal and economic restrictions to access the content they make available (Ginsparg, 1996). For Lynch (2003), repositories are an essential infrastructure for scholarship in the digital age but for Tennant (2005) they merely collect “grey literature.” This situation is further exacerbated by references to the “commons” whose metaphorical meanings (like libraries and repositories) also range from the public domain to ideas far larger than that. Using the open source software model of knowledge production as a main example, Benkler (2002) argues for understanding modern information and knowledge production as a commons-based peer production model; this is also a view that makes sense when one considers the popularity of wikis or the global open access archives that have been operating in disciplines like high energy physics and computer science for more than a decade now. Even more interestingly, the Conservation Commons (2006) is using the idea of the commons to solve problems of biodiversity and the Science Commons (2006) is promoting the easing of barriers for scientific information of all types. The commons has enormous implications for research and teaching in the communities that make up the information sciences. Yet, the overwhelming majority of the ISI-ranked IS/LS journals today remain closed, there appears to be little innovation in our disciplinary scholarly communication system, there is only modest research from the information sciences community about the 'commons' and its potential for innovating information sciences research, including impact on digital libraries and digital repositories remains unexplored.

The goal of the panel is to explore the concept of the commons by framing it in the context of scholarly communication while also honing our understandings about digital libraries and repositories as technologies and socio-cultural artifacts. Panel members will uncover the pros and cons of the commons for LIS research and scholarly communication by describing the cognate and competing extant information realities. Edie Rasmussen will discuss the role of digital libraries in the commons. Anita Coleman will present latest research about the self-archiving behaviors of LIS scholars, open access archives and the commons. Don Kraft, JASIST Editor-in-chief, will share experiences editing a peer-reviewed ISI-ranked journal. Samantha Hastings, ASIS&T monographs Editor, will share book publishing plans and concerns.

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