So what’s more interesting to me than whether Google could trounce a librarian in a smack-down (or whether libraries can add enough snack bars and media labs to make students think they have entered the Google headquarters) is how do the terms of the debate here shape what is possible for libraries? By associating libraries with the past, with guarded and dusty collections, with a provincial and conscripted sense of place, we rob them of the ability to engage in responsive growth and change. But we do this uncritically, since the past, collections, places– none of these are static or unchanging. What might be useful is thinking about how “place” can empower us to challenge the ways that the web is privatizing and work more effectively towards a learning commons that sustains the public good.
What kind of academic publishing channels do we need to assure quality and transparent peer review and open access to research by other researchers and by the public at large? What kinds of tools and platforms and expertise do we need to share course materials and research, and who should pay for them and host them and make them available? What kind of centralized standards do we need for interoperability and search and retrieval, and what kind of decentralization must remain in order to allow communities to expand in organic ways?