Print

Print


Any obstruction in the flow of information is bad news for
librarians.  But if we take a long view here, this might have
some silver lining.
 
What we should be concerned with is getting all of the
information our clients need to them when they need it at the
least possible cost.  That is why we exist as librarians.  We
tend to see printed matter as the solution.  In the long view,
printed matter is the problem.  It is the problem for publishers
because they have to pay so much to create, reproduce and ship
information in its printed form.  It is a problem for libraries
because, while our clients use only a small fraction of it at
any time, we have to buy, store, house and circulate tons of it
-- at very great expense.
 
Clearly, the total real cost of supplying information to our
clients would be VERY MUCH LOWER if the information were never
imprisoned in print, but handled electronically.  The trick is
to evolve an information economy that makes print unnecessary.
Some revolutionary changes have to happen for this to occur but
one of the keys is an economy of pay per use.  It will certainly
be painful to get to a no-print, pay-per-use economy but any
kind of free reproduction and distribution is an obstacle in
that evolution.