Friday, September 10, 2010

McCranky Friday ;-)

Welcome back to school!!!!
I think today I may be channeling the Annoyed Librarian ;-)

In any case, here is a response to a blog post on InsideHigherEd.com about Netflix and library collections. Now I have to say that I enjoy reading Josh's posts despite the fact that most of them induce a facepalm gesture. I guess the first thing that gets me about these blog posts is that no one bothers to read them before publication - either that, or people really don't know the difference between a SHOW and a SHOE. In any case this is a minor evil. The major facepalm moment comes from not really understanding the "making available" aspect of library collections. The question posed is this:

Should [institutions of higher education] be in the business of purchasing videos for our collections? The Netflix value proposition was pretty compelling with over 100,000 titles, but has the iPhone and Touch app put Netflix over the edge?


I can't really blame people for wanting to go to a more "efficient" industry model (flawed as this assumption of efficiency may be) but people aren't thinking of the larger picture. If you've ever used Hulu or Netflix you KNOW that streaming shows aren't always available. They come and go! Sure you might get a few days notice but is that enough lead time to get you the DVD in time for your class? What if you are showing clips from 10 films, streaming works, but DVD rentals do not!

Unlike journal subscriptions, where articles appear and disappear all the time based on agreements made between publishers and providers, you can't download a film from a streaming service (because it's streaming), conversely I have tons of articles that I saved their PDF version when the journal service had access, and I still have access to those articles even the journal service does not!

Another thing that ACADEMIC users of Netflix will notice is that Netflix does not have that many academic titles on hand. The purpose of Netflix is entertainment, not academics. Therefore some of those $300 DVDs that are available at your library are probably not available on Netflix!

There is the issue of wear-and-tear. Netflix DVDs are probably abused. They go through thousands of players each year, this tends to diminish their shelf life. In an academic library the use of a particular DVD is not going to be that high because it's not available to the billion subscribers that Netflix has.


Finally there is a question of possibly putting a netflix subscription as part of a technology fee. As a student I must revolt and say "NO MORE FEES!" I already have a netflix subscription, I don't need to pay yet another $9 per month, thank you very much :-)


One thing that I am wondering (spelling errors aside), is whether Josh's blog posts are questions to get the techies, faculty and librarians talking to one another (sort of like a devil's advocate position), or whether he really believes that we should be relying on the Apples and Amazons and Netflixs of the world for our content in Academia. Perhaps I am reading it wrong ;-)
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