Good for business, not so much for scholarship


By Daniel Goldstein

From The Chronicle Review:

From industry-backed research to CEO-style executive salaries and perquisites, the influence of corporate America on universities has been the subject of much popular and scholarly scrutiny. University libraries have largely escaped that attention. Yet libraries, the intellectual heart of universities, have become perhaps the most commercialized academic area within universities, with troubling implications for the future of higher education.

Libraries have always dealt with the business world, buying books, journals, and other products. In the past, however, libraries separated the commercial process of acquiring materials from the academic objective of putting those materials to use. But that division has now faded as an unintended side effect of information technology.

Libraries are early and enthusiastic adopters of digital innovations. But these innovations bring the values of the marketplace with them. Through innocuous incremental stages, academic libraries have reached a point where they are now guided largely by the mores of commerce, not academe.

“Library Inc.,” Daniel Goldstein, The Chronicle Review