The Past's Digital Presence, February 19-20, 2010


12 - The Digital Age Library: "University Library Book Acquisitions Policies in an Electronic Age"

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During the past decade electronic texts and resources have become increasingly accepted by academic libraries, resulting in a shift away from print resources. The view presented by both the American and Canadian Library Associations (ALA, CLA) is that electronic means is a more effective format for the publication, control, dissemination, accessibility, and preservation of information. The rise of the digital format has led to a number of changes in how libraries manage, approach and disseminate information, which has potential consequences that are as yet largely unstudied. This paper investigates why the shift from print to digital media is taking place and what implications it has for academic libraries. In particular, this paper examines the rationale provided by several Canadian university libraries for facilitating the shift toward digital resources and for justifying the costs of the transition. In order to provide a representative cross-section of Ontario university libraries, this study focuses primarily on the library policies and budgets of the University of Toronto (Medical-Doctoral), the University of Guelph (Comprehensive), and Trent University (Primarily Undergraduate). The results indicate that, in general, not a lot is known about how the transition toward digital resources will affect information, libraries, and technology. This shift is problematic because different disciplines and faculties within the academic community do not use, research, or require materials and mediums in the same way. The reality is that many of the premises and assumptions behind the shift to digital acquisitions and resources are either suspect or invalid when it comes to maintaining an acceptable standard for humanities and social science research. As a result, a substantial change in how humanities and social sciences research can be conducted will occur, a move that is tantamount to limiting how future scholarly work in these areas can and will take place.

Open Access

This Article is Open Access