The Body in the Virtual Library: Rethinking Scholarly CommunicationSkip other details (including permanent urls, DOI, citation information)
This work is protected by copyright and may be linked to without seeking permission. Permission must be received for subsequent distribution in print or electronically. Please contact email@example.com for more information. :
For more information, read Michigan Publishing's access and usage policy.
The Book as Object
If we want a visual analog to the electronic book , we can learn a lot from the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, where artworks based on the idea "book" suggest the open architecture of the Internet. These works of art convey content as form. They are hard to imagine and yet have a gracious logic. Some of them are flights of fancy so tangentially related to the book as we know it that we are aware of their book origins only because they are identified as book arts—a series of fans, for example, or an object that looks like a box kite. Others are more clearly traditional books. One is a book wrapped in barbed wire. Another is a book that unfolds in a fan shape to reveal a landscape. Another has a light in the binding—truly an illuminated text, or perhaps a pun on the computer's backlit screen.
I begin by writing about the book as art because so many fear that the electronic book will obliterate the book as we know it, leaving us with no tangible object of our literate affection. Like the art object, however, the electronic book does not so much replace traditional books as extend our idea of book in new directions. I would suggest that, in the realm of academic publishing that is the subject of this chapter, the e-book actually returns to an earlier mode of scholarly discourse, retrieving the past in a new, friendly form by allowing for more direct and immediate communication among scholars and students.
Most of us know about, and some even remember, monotype, the hot-metal method of composition that was in general use through the 1960s. When I began working at The Johns Hopkins University Press in 1967, I could feel the impression of type on the printed page. The changes that ensued, what we called cold type, were an esthetic shock to our systems. They did not, however, materially affect the nature of our work, which was driven by content. Content as form, the book as art work, is related to the hand-held object most of us cherish only in the most tenuous ways. When is an installation no longer a book? How can you tell? In the electronic environment, we encounter the opposite kind of book—content without form or even materiality. How do we know what we are dealing with? Does it matter? If a producer says that something is a book, perhaps that is all one needs to know. The publisher, of course, wants to know how to make money with it, whatever it is.
A New Way of Publishing
The electronic revolution is about much more than scholarly publishing. It is about a new kind of social order that in fact threatens the very existence of the traditional scholarly publisher. When Michael Jensen at the University of Nebraska Press casually referred three years ago in an e-mail message to "an online society," he was talking about something that clearly exists now in a way just imaginable when he used the phrase. Public policy supports that vision of society. The Clinton administration began immediately after coming to office to develop the National Information Infrastructure (NII). Vice President Gore talked enthusiastically and convincingly about the potential for information technology in American education and business. Investment in this technology has already radically altered the landscape for publishers as some of the largest American communications companies have begun to exploit the potential of fiber-optic highways.
What this revolution means to publishers was articulated in June 1992 by Richard Snyder, then Simon & Schuster chair: "We're not just a publisher anymore, but a creator and exploiter of copyrights. We sell information in any form, in any way you want it....We are out of the confines of print, although that doesn't mean we are out of the print business. We can sell the same information in various forms. We can take any piece of information—a college textbook or a Securities and Exchange Commission filing—and sell it in print, on line, on CD-ROM, on film, and on interactive laser discs." (Snyder, 1992) This new kind of publisher makes available to the user only the information the user wants only when the user wants it and in the most convenient form. This ability to target and tailor information is at the heart of the electronic revolution. As information becomes more widely and rapidly available, people are going to want to control the flow to suit their own purposes, not the purposes of the supplier (ie, the publisher). This new set of circumstances challenges the way publishers have traditionally thought. The present book publishing and distribution system is characterized not by precision marketing, although some publishers do that, but by waste. Colin Day, Director of the University of Michigan Press and past president of the Association of American University Presses, argued in a private internet communication two years ago that the changes we face as publishers are "Type 2" innovations. By that he meant that the electronic revolution "bears the seeds of the destruction of our business." His reasoning was based on the problem of maintaining control of copyrights, which generate the revenue stream that pays our costs. ("Type 1" innovations are those that merely change the physical nature of what we sell. The shift from hot metal to cold type is an example.)
Colin Day has stated the issue facing scholarly publishers this way: "The university press community does have to develop and promote a view of how scholarly communication should exploit the strengths of these new technologies while preserving the essential contributions that we make to the process of scholarly communication." (Private internet communication) The new technology has called into question the value publishers have added to the traditional work of scholars, whether disseminated in book or journal form. Some have questioned whether the future will contain publishers—intermediaries between writers and readers—at all. A few NetHeads have suggested that the writer will also publish and archive in the new environment. Others have acknowledged that some form of intermediary will be required but that it will emerge from the present library system and combine in one agency the functions of publisher and librarian. I will return to this important question later.
Roots of a New Order
The new technology arrived at a time of crisis for the scholarly communication system. Just as the escalating costs of journals were driving out other library acquisitions, university presses increased the number of titles published in order to compensate for declining library sales. Some presses also shifted their lists toward more general and course markets. Familiar divisions between the nonprofit and for-profit publishing worlds began to blur as university presses ceased to think of libraries as their primary markets. Because the electronic revolution began in libraries and with journals, university presses were caught by surprise when in April 1992 a symposium on scholarly publishing in the electronic networks, sponsored by the Association of Research Libraries, made it clear to some that the old order was moribund. Journals were already being published on line; document delivery systems, along with customized course packs, threatened to destroy both the remaining library market and the developing course market for academic books. The journal model of disseminating information—assemblages of somewhat related materials designed for random access—has now become the paradigm for electronic publishing.
University presses began as the publishers of journals and evolved into publishers of mostly monographs—which I have defined as relatively short, specialized books emphasizing research method as much as or more than content. (Many of my colleagues have disputed this definition, but I believe it describes exactly the sort of book that dominated university press lists until the mid- to late-eighties. It is also the cornerstone of the larger academic publishers who rely on economies of scale, the production of large numbers of narrowly focused books for very small markets, to survive.) These monographs were designed primarily as tools by which scholars could communicate with and evaluate each other on common ground. Clear methodology ensured that one scholar could understand how another scholar reached a particular conclusion. Thereby, the bricks of knowledge were firmly cemented into place. Something like that. Young scholars attained promotion and tenure by participating in this process. Older scholars mentored younger scholars, established schools of thought, controlled what got published through the peer review system. University presses, owned and operated by major research universities, became central to the management of this system. These assumptions on which the system operated have not actually changed even though nearly everything else has. In a way, the scholars producing work and the universities relying on their presses to validate academic preferment are the last to find out that the government has been overthrown and no one is in charge.
The monograph, as I have argued publicly for several years, is dead as a viable economic base for university presses. Worse yet—and this is not something I have previously said—I do not think that the present system of university publishing can survive at all. Some new form of managing scholarly communication will have to emerge. The question is, what will it look like? The struggle under way is about the control of information, and university presses have few weapons to bring to the field. One example of what I mean will suffice for the moment. On February 8, 1994, as I was writing the final draft of this chapter, Encyclopedia Britannica announced that the reference work would be offered to universities and some public libraries via the Internet. Using the WAIS search engine and the revolutionary Mosaic software interface, Britannica promised to become state of the art in on-line retrieval. This happened virtually overnight. By contrast, university presses had been struggling for nearly two years to come up with a way of making all press catalogs available on the Internet and still had not succeeded (although the system was on line by June 1994). The difference was capital and the ability of Britannica to make and execute the decision to develop a system of its own that allowed control of content. Joseph Esposito, president of Encyclopedia Britannica, was quoted as saying that "you cannot make any money licensing your content. If you believe that content is king, it's rather unfortunate that so many of the content providers have put themselves in a position where they're held hostage to the on-line services." (New York Times, February 8, 1994, p. D1) University presses appeared to have no choice but to license content to on-line services because they lacked the capital and executive ability to create proprietary systems.
In 1991 I suggested that university presses make common cause with campus libraries and computer centers to develop university-based publishing nodes that could take advantage of Internet and short-run printing technologies. When I was at Rutgers as Director of the university press, I organized a committee that prepared in early 1992 a grant proposal to study this new approach to scholarly communication. The essence of the idea was that the university should be at the center of scholarly communication, not the university press as currently operating. Because I had learned that the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation was preparing a report on scholarly communication, we sent our proposal to Mellon. The Mellon report was issued a year later, late in 1992, at which time Richard Ekman, the program officer responsible for the report, indicated that Mellon would not be funding electronic publishing projects for some time to come. Subsequently, in 1993, the Coalition for Networked Information (CNI), which had not previously invited university presses to participate in its deliberations, collaborated with the Association of American University Presses in the encouragement of university-based projects linking libraries, computer centers, and presses—as I had previously proposed. The hitch was that no money was offered to help presses do anything. Sponsorship by CNI, it was hoped, would legitimate the projects and attract funding. Most of these projects were small, content-driven extensions of traditional publishing programs that promised to do little to change the way people used or disseminated information.
By the time CNI and AAUP announced their initiative, I had concluded that it would be necessary to create a larger, more cooperative electronic system in which university presses could function. Local initiatives were unlikely to address the critical question of managing the flow of information in a system that is anything but local. The investment necessary to turn the system around—to bring universities and their presses onto the NII playing field—has to come from the deep pockets of large corporations and foundations. There has been little evidence at the time of this writing that these funding entities have any interest in putting money into the rescue or evolution of the system of scholarly communication.
My point here is that university presses, acting individually in their university environments, cannot ever move quickly enough with sufficient capital and authority to be players in the new environment. Not only do the presses lack capital and staff to innovate, foundations are clearly not prepared to put large amounts of money into locally based projects that cannot demonstrate large-scale economic value. One or two presses are exceptions, but they are fundamentally different from most university publishers. Oxford and Cambridge University Presses are prime examples of publshers with the capital and the freedom to innovate. Not surprisingly, therefore, Edward Barry, president of Oxford, is one of the key people spending time on the problems of scholarly publishing in the electronic environment. In 1993 the AAUP created an Electronic Caucus, a committee of volunteers charged with monitoring developments in the new publishing environment. Energetically led by Lisa Freeman, Director at Minnesota, the E-Caucus was quickly overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work to be done. The leadership of AAUP realized that volunteer action would be insufficient for the needs of the press community—and at the same time had to conclude for economic reasons that there were no other options available to the association.
In sharp contrast to the AAUP, the librarians have been extremely well organized around the issue of electronic dissemination and management of information. Ann Okerson, of the Association of Research Libraries, forced the university presses to pay attention to the problem in the first place. The result was a dialog between librarians and university publishers astonishingly unique in the history of academic publishing. She also focused attention on the critical issue of the ownership of intellectual property raised by the crisis in publishing and the electronic environment.
In an article in Logos in 1991 Okerson made the case that universities should reclaim control of the copyrights they generate. This sort of thing was already common in the area of patents aand other kinds of intellectual properties created by universities. The copyright system, as she justifiably claimed, was dysfunctional. Richard Dougherty as long ago as Spring 1989 analyzed the situation perceptively in an issue of Library Administration and Management. The publish-or-perish syndrome, he argued, fuels the publishing engine and produces, as a result, too much stuff. Specialization in academe and the reward system that drives scholars to publish create publications, both books and journals, that are unrelated to the demand for the information they contain. In his article, Dougherty argued that the university should become a base for publication very much as I independently proposed in our Rutgers grant application to Mellon. Such an approach would involve the universities more deeply in the system of scholarly communication as both an information and economic enterprise.
In the on-line Humanist Discussion Group back in May 1991, Robin Cover alarmed a number of people by suggesting that the present scholarly publishing system rips off scholars who should take control of their own work and self-publish on the Net. Cover is an anarchist. He questioned the role of the publisher as "authenticator" and owner of academic work. The scholar who produces and uses scholarly work buys it back through university-subsidized programs—or so this argument went. Cover properly noted that publishers did not create this situation. They merely exploited it.
In short, electronic communication systems, arriving with the speed and surprise of Jurassic Park's Velociraptors, immediately called into question the economic soul of the scholarly communications system: copyright itself. It is little wonder that university publishers were alarmed by what appeared to be an assault on their very reason for existing.
The Threat to University Publishing
The 1992 Andrew W. Mellon Foundation study, University Libraries and Scholarly Communication, provided little comfort for the university press executive. The report had nothing much to say about university presses and seemed in fact to assume that they would fade away in the face of new systems of information or knowledge management that would be based in virtual libraries—where, to borrow Stanley Katz's descriptive phrasing in a paper delivered in 1992 in Tokyo, "remote logon, electronic text processing, and computer database technology transform libraries from physical repositories of texts and other materials to electronic nodes on a worldwide information network." (Katz, 1992, p. 2)
The unspoken assumption that began to appear in many discussions of the new electronic knowledge environment, exemplified in the Mellon report, was that university presses would have no significant role to play because somehow the university would become a new publisher embodied in the division best able to manage large amounts of data—the library. As Stanley Katz remarked in his Tokyo paper, "librarians will be the scholar's partner in the creation of knowledge" and will take on "a new, more primary role in the production of scholarly research." (Katz, 1992, p. 5) This was not what I had in mind when I proposed that the libraries and presses cooperate in the production of scholarly information.
I want to use the Mellon report as a vehicle for discussing one aspect of what I think is the most important issue facing the scholarly communications system in the electronic environment: the ownership and management of content. (I will not be discussing the technical aspects of copyrght law, however. My concern is with organizational matters.)
The most alarming statement in the Mellon report is this:
There are, finally, the proposals that universities (1) claim joint ownership of scholarly writings with members of their faculties, remunerating them and prohibiting them from assigning copyright to a third party; (2) request that faculty members first submit manuscripts to publishers whose pricing practices are, in effect, more consonant with larger educational objectives; and (3) grant unlimited copying to libraries and individual scholars and specify that such permission has been granted in the copyright statement. These proposals, of course, are extensions of the broader proposal that universities reclaim responsibility for disseminating the results of faculty scholarship. (Cummings, 1992, p. 160)
I have previously described the conceptual origins of this remarkable proposal. Several aspects of this paragraph are worth attention.
First, it is not clear to me that universities gave up the responsiblity for disseminating the results of faculty scholarship. University presses are more not less numerous than ever, and virtually all of them are wholly owned by research universities that mandate the publication of scholarship in some form. Moreover, as the Mellon report graphically showed, university press publication of scholarship increased (foolishly, as it happens) in the 1980s.
The problem was not that universities stopped publishing scholarship. The problem was that libraries stopped buying it. This is an example of the well-known fact that there areusually two ways, at least, of looking at a situation. Since libraries and university presses are both wholly owned subsidiaries of universities, we might safely say that universities both published and stopped buying the results of scholarship. The Mellon report seems to support this observation. The meaning of the claim that universities have abandoned responsiblity for disseminating research is actually more complex than it appears. Claiming responsibility in this instance was actually about who is going to control certain kinds of valuable intellectual property. The argument usually advanced is that the proper management of intellectual property should mean cheap ideas available to all.
The proposal that universities take back copyright had been floated previously without any clear explanation of how this might work in practice, although Brian Kahin proposed quite specific system guidelines under the Harvard-CNI Scholarly Communication Project. As expressed by Kahin, taking back copyright (or, to be accurate, taking copyright away from scholars by making their work a form of "work-for-hire") requires that university presses cease to function in a market economy—or that the new form of the university press, based in the library, ignore the demands of market. I have long wanted to ignore the market, as have most university presses, but we have been unable to do it. Kahin calls this "maximum dissemination at the lowest cost." (Kahin, 1993) One might also add, at the lowest return to the producer—the scholar.
When this idea was first advanced, I raised the question of joint ownership of copyright with a few of my faculty friends, who mostly responded with wide and rolling eyes. One asked for a copy of page 160 from the Mellon report so that she could pass it on to her union. Another asked about the place of academic freedom in this system. It is clear to me that most humanities faculty would be aghast at the idea and would fight it fiercely. A serious number of them think of their books as ways of making money for themselves. University presses would similarly fight the proviso that unlimited copying be permitted in universities. The meaning of the suggestion that manuscripts only go to publishers who have correct pricing policies remains a mystery to me. The command economy, such as that once practiced in Eastern Europe and other places, mandated such price rigging without regard to costs and was a miserable failure. And yet the idea was being seriously discussed by a committee of the Association of American Universities studying intellectual property in the academic environment in 1993 and 1994. Chaired by Peter Nathan, provost at the University of Iowa, the committee functioned for some time without a single publisher representative and for a time considered recommending that universities retain faculty copyrights completely. Actions designed to take from scholars and publishers the right to exploit intellectual property would do serious and deadly harm to the system of scholarly communication.
What seems to be wanted, if I understand this paragraph in the Mellon report correctly, is the restructuring of the university press idea with tighter controls over the dissemination of the products. The present system is too difficult to control. Publishers and authors make all sorts of rowdy agreements together, exchange money, deceive customers, etc. At one point the Mellon report notes that, in the culture of print, exchange transactions are the only transactions possible and goes on to suggest that in the electronic environment other kinds of presumably more democratic transactions will take place in the friendly sharing of resources. The reason for the dominance of exchange transactions in publishing—and indeed, one might note, in the economy as a whole—is the centrality of property rights, including copyright. (More important in Europe are moral rights, which are explicitly excluded by the United States from its adherance to the Berne Convention. The concept of an author's moral rights changes considerably, and perhaps usefully, the terms of the copyright discussion in the electronic environment. It is certainly an issue that will have to be addressed in any revision of copyright law.)
While one might want to change copyright from a property to another kind of right in order to create friendlier transaction models—although I don't know what that right might be like—in the meantime it seems worth noting that there is a logical reason for this state of affairs and that publishers did not create it.
Running through the Mellon report is a powerful concern for a situation in which order is threatened. I believe that this reflects a concern important to librarians and publishers as well. As the old, neat system of scholarly communication begins to break down, it is natural that we would want to find some way to prop it up or, failing that, to replace it with something else equally orderly. Or even more orderly. Electronic communications systems tend to be horizontal and therefore difficult to control, even though they seem to promise greater order. Anyone can publish on this system and no one will be able to tell what is good and what is not good. Who is going to provide quality control? Who is going to make sure that all of this stuff is properly archived? Who is going to be the gatekeeper? The answer advanced in the past couple of years seems to be: the library, which, the Mellon report asserts, is central to the management of scholarly communication and will be for the forseeable future. (Ann Okerson, in her otherwise superb executive summary of the report, goes so far as to assert that the institutional library is the one "indispensable mediator in the dialogue between writer and reader." [Cummings, 1992, p. xxix]) The library has not been splendidly isolated at the center of the dissemination of scholarly communication. It is no more indispensable than the publisher. The library has shared that responsibility with the university press. The new electronic environment seems to be beckoning the libraries, however, to become publishers and, as a natural result, to bring some much-needed order into the messy business of publishing. The institutional imperative is very much at work in the Mellon report and, indeed, in much of which has been written about this subject. But the institutional controls offered are mostly designed to meet the needs of a small part of the traditional knowledge community.
Inventing the Future
Jeremy Bentham's Panopticon, resurrected and reinterpreted for us by Foucault, promised a way of controlling the unruly in society. The round prison building Bentham designed allowed for the constant surveillance of all prisoners. It allowed total social control. What some people want in the new electronic environment is, I fear, a kind of Panopticon, by which the unruly business of communication might be more efficiently managed. The true point of Panoptic architecture was comprehensive knowledge, a pretence perpetuated in electronic systems (as David Lyon notes in The Electronic Eye, a recent book on electronic surveillance). The gaze of the machine is relentless and steady. It sees everything. But in fact the new systems will be unruly because the gaze is not one way. Everyone in fact is looking at everyone else, and disorder is inherent. The utopian Panoptic ideal was dystopic, in fact. And the ideal of controlling knowledge in the university is also dystopic, for the essence of university education appears to be its unruliness.
I too worry about entropy, however, and would like to maintain an orderly universe. I think that the solution is not in the transfer of publishing, distribution, and archiving systems entirely to libraries—the Panopticon model. Two years ago in a paper I delivered before a session of the American Library Association meeting in New Orleans, I suggested that the solution lay in a restructuring of the university itself (Arnold, 1994). More than one of my colleagues responded that it was hopelessly idealistic even to discuss such a prospect. It seemed to me that without a restructuring—an integration of university systems to facilitate communication—none of the nifty ideas any of us had would work. I now think that change in the university will be necessary but will probably follow changes in the national structures for the electronic dissemination of information. The university publishers and other publishers concerned with the scholarly communication system will have to solve the problems on their own and outside of the university . When I left Rutgers in Spring 1994, for example, there was still no campus-wide fiber-optic network. The university press itself could not connect to the university, except by modem, because the cost was prohibitive. On the other hand, the head of reprographic services at Rutgers bought three Docutech machines in order to offer customized course packs to faculty at a profit for his university unit. One of his people developed an interactive network for that system, but no one talked to me or the library about how it might have been designed to be useful to us and our work. This sort of Balkanized approach to university systems is common if not universal and in hard economic times is likely to remain so.
In the humanities, as Douglas Greenberg has recently pointed out, electronic information systems on campuses are going to lag behind those in the sciences both because of the different ways in which information is used and because there is a deplorable lack of equipment available to humanistic scholars. In fact, he observes in the same paper, that the "democratizing influence of technology will operate perfectly in the sciences and fail dismally in the humanities." (Greenberg, 1993, p. 29) The humanities, which are by and large the province of university presses, have already suffered terribly in this crisis and, as I read it, will continue to suffer in the new electronic environment, as will inevitably the university presses. Nobody seems to care much about that at the higher levels of university decision-making.
What needs to change is more than technological systems. As the Mellon report notes, tenure and promotion decisions are based on specific forms of publication, particularly through university presses, and there are few signs that universities want to re-examine that system. The allocation of university resources is based on a particular model for the communication of knowledge, and there are few if any signs that that is changing. The producing scholars are not involved in the conversations. The university presses are also left out, as they were in the Mellon report itself.
A new system of knowledge management will only work if scholars and publishers are essential and equal parts of it. That means that they need to be deeply involved in its creation. Even the cooperative symposia sponsored by the ARL and AAUP in the past few years may have been too little and too limited, however needed and valuable. They have identified problems. Solutions, when they have been proposed, have come in small corners of the university world or, more commonly, in commercial settings.
I am concerned that before we can make much progress at all in the university and nonprofit environment the systems of electronic communication are going to be taken over by commerce—by the telephone and cable companies, which are already laying the groundwork for providing extensive and sophisticated services nationally, and by the large publishing companies. Universities are likely to end up buying services because they will not have been able to develop systems of their own. The situation so many librarians now lament in which they have to buy back research will be worse not better once the commercial companies have networked us all.
The dream of the electronic future is for many the virtual library, a neverland of limitless and free information accessible from the scholar's study. The university press as it has existed for more than a hundred years is in danger of becoming the dead body in this virtual library. The university has always been a disseminator of knowledge through various media, including book and journal publication. The scholar, however, has always been treated as an independent voice in that context. The communication facilitated by all of the institutions involved—publishers, libraries, universities—is between scholars and between scholars and the educated public. All of us are servants in this system. Change needs to be fueled by the needs of scholars and scholarship, not by the needs of organizations. But the commercialization of the electronic future threatens not only the scholar and the publisher, it threatens the library as well. The end result of commercially supplied systems will be expensive and captive to the whims of profit and mass culture.
I do not think that university presses in their present form are essential to the development of electronic systems in universities—although they will undoubtedly continue, at least some of them, to publish effectively as they are presently organized for the ongoing but shrinking print culture of the future. In the future university presses will publish more than one kind of book; many have worried about the place of the scholarly monograph in that future. I have argued elsewhere that the monograph is a construct designed for the print environment. In the new environment, something else will arise to take the monograph's place—or, rather, to perform the monograph's function. What that is will depend entirely on the way in which information is organized by scholars, publishers, and librarians.
Left alone, the present scholarly communication system will collapse, as will everything else. If the present system collapses before we understand what happened and what is to replace it—if university presses disappear and libraries become prematurely virtual—anarchy may leave us vulnerable to the culture of the trivial that always threatens to overwhelm us.
In 1992 at the first ARL/AAUP symposium on electronics and scholarly communication (known to many as "Woodstock"), I likened university presses to Neanderthals clustered around the fire and electronic librarians to Cro-Magnan humans swooping down from the mountains. I suggested then and suggest now that the E-people contemplate not conquest but intermarriage with the P-people. We need to develop and combine resources in creative new ways. We need to work together to lead our universities toward a new and better system of scholarly communication that retains the virtues of the old. We need to do it now before yet another group comes over the mountain and consumes us both.
The two keys to the successful development of future structures will be cooperation among the players and control of content. This means in effect that scholars, academic publishers, and libraries will have to work together to find the means to create a new system external to the university itself for the dissemination of scholarly resources. If we look back at the Britannica model, deployed by one company for the management of its own intellectual property, I think we can visualize a national network managed under the auspices of key organizations in the scholarly community through which university- based scholarly work is transmitted to users. This distribution system would not acquire rights in the work of scholars but would only manage access on behalf of the producers and publishers. For-profit as well as nonprofit publishers of academic work would be included in this system. Individual publishers would neither have to create electronic means of distribution nor license the rights to their publications. The network would operate on a nonprofit basis, charging users low fees permitted by the sheer volume of data. Individual publishers would continue to develop other kinds of products for local and national distribution. This system would meet the librarians' demand for access to cheaper information, provide universities with materials created and controlled by universities and scholars, and allow libraries to retain control of information management and archiving at local sites. Publishers would continue to develop products, add value to content, and manage their businesses for the benefit of the universities or corporations that own them.
The alternative, as I have suggested in this chapter, is a virtual landscape strewn with real bodies, a slaughter of potentially devastating proportions. It is imperative that we recreate a model for scholarly communication that retains the best of the present system. There is not much time in which to accomplish this task. The monograph is a symbol of the serious situation we face. Its disappearance leaves a void that has to be filled. Its disappearance adumbrates our own. Publishers and librarians will become in the absence of a new vision like the works in the Minnesota Center for Book Arts: objects of admiration and even grace, small triumphs of the spirit adrift on a sea of babble. And indeed we might be honored in just that way. I prefer, however, that we see in such art works a metaphor for our collective future: imaginative reconstructions of our lives.
This chapter draws on two previously published essays by the author: "Rethinking Scholarly Communication in the New University," in Conference Proceedings, ALCTS 1993, published by ALCTS, 1994; and "The Scholarly Monograph is Dead; Long Live the Scholarly Monograph," in Visions and Opportunities in Electronic Publishing: Proceedings of the Second Symposium, publishing by the Association of Research Libraries, 1993.
Kenneth Arnold is founder and president of New Century Communications, a publishing and communications consulting firm in New York City. He has worked for twenty-eight years in academic publishing, most recently as Director of Rutgers University Press. Comments and responses are welcome and may be forwarded to the author by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by U.S. mail:
Arnold, K. (1994), Rethinking Scholarly Communication in the New University. In Conference Proceedings, ALCTS 1993, Bishoff, E. and C. Chamberlain, eds. Chicago: Association for Library Collections and Technical Services, American Library Association.
Cover, R. (1991). Internet communication, Humanist Discussion Group.
Cummings, A., Witte, M.L., Bowen, W.G., Lazarus, L.O., & Ekman, R.H. (1992). University Libraries and Scholarly Communiction: A Study Prepared for the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Washington, D.C.: The Association of Research Libraries.
Dougherty, R. (1989). Library Administration and Management. Spring 1989.
Esposito, J. (1994, February 8). The New York Times, pp. D1-D2.
Greenberg, D. (1993, April). Technology and Its Discontents: Some Problems and Possibilities for the Humanist in the Virtual University. Paper presented at a conference on Changes in Scholarly Communication Patterns, Canberra, Australia.
Kahin, B. (1993, May). Proposed Principles for Communication and Publication of University-Based Research. Internet communication, unpaged.
Katz, S. (1992, October). The Humanities and the Future of the Research Library. Paper presented at the Joint Meeting of the Japanese and American Library Associations, Tokyo, Japan.
Lyon, D. (1994). The Electronic Eye. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Okerson, A. (1991). Back to Academia? The Case for American Universities to Publish Their Own Research. Logos., Vol. 2, Number 2, pages 106-111.
Snyder, R. (1992, June). Publishers Weekly.
"The Body in the Virtual Library," forthcoming in Computer Networking and Scholarship in the 21st Century University, edited by Teresa Harrison and Timothy Stephen (State University of New York Press), is copyrighted by Kenneth Arnold. All rights, including redistribution, are reserved to the author. This essay may be downloaded for personal use only.