New intermediaries, or the old intermediaries in a new guise?
Serials: The Journal for the Serials Community
New intermediaries and old Publishers, librarians, agents and aggregators are all in the midst of great changes in our professions. Very often these changes loom large in our minds as threats, and changes in the world of information have led, and will lead, to insolvencies and redundancies in both the public and the commercial sectors. Librarians lose their jobs as well as publishers. Equally, however, times of change create opportunities as well as threats, and my purpose is to explore how we
... to explore how we can turn as many threats as possible into opportunities. There will be times when a librarian's opportunity is a publisher 's threat, and vice-versa, but essentially we are all in this together, peering through the fog for a glimpse of sunlight, and hoping that we do not stumble and fall before light dawns. The wonderful invention of the Dewey classification system enabled librarians to offer a user-friendly service and thus increase dramatically the number of books loaned. Today we have the wonderful invention of the Internet, which enables librarians to offer a user-friendly service and thus increase dramatically the number of information units used. I apologise for the use of this ugly term ª information unitsº , but as yet we have not found words as expressive as ª bookº or ª journalº to describe the way in which information will be packaged or accessed over the networks. The underlying message is that improvements in information provision lead to an increase in the use of information, to the benefit of most of us who are information intermediaries. I am careful to say ª most of usº rather than ª all of usº , because I repeat my message that there will be casualties. But for publishers and for librarians who take the right decisions there is a good future. The future for publishers and librarians in the academic world can be bright, but only if they change their current approaches. New agents and aggregators are introducing new ways of providing information that challenge the traditional system. Publishers and librarians must react by revising their thinking. In particular, new financial models and new attitudes to users' needs are required.