Fall Blog Post 3: Access & E-Resources

My time in E-Resources in both 5th and 6th ended up coming at a serendipitous time, since I had already been talking more about online access to both books and articles with my comps fast approaching in winter term. I certainly had never realized how much work it was to balance and maintain access to all of the databases that the library helps students and faculty use. Not only that, but online access has been a continuing theme throughout the rest of my weeks in Technical Services as well. It really struck me just how much increasing reliance on e-resources will affect libraries, not just this one, in coming years, especially in the wake of the pandemic. The articles that Amy gave me to read, such as “The Knowledgebase at the Center of the Universe”, helped cement ideas that were useful when conceptualizing how the library functions as a whole. Particularly because the readings for e-resources were more technical than some of the readings for other weeks, and I had to take more time to wrap my head around them, I found myself more aware than ever how much I don’t know. Additionally, the issue of accessibility, which had already been raised in earlier weeks, came to the forefront — after all, just because something is on the internet doesn’t mean that it’s available for people to read. I think this is a fairly obvious statement, but not one that people inside the academic sphere, where we are more likely to have resources like the library to get us past paywalls, are necessarily highly aware of. We still encounter paywalls, often as an annoyance, but rarely as a true obstacle — and that is because of institutions like libraries. The issue then becomes, what about non-academia? What about under-funded libraries? What about people who don’t have access to a library, or to the internet at all? It’s very clear to me that this is a structural problem that isn’t going to be solved by any single actor, or even any single institution. The “Paywall” documentary did a great job of illustrating just how deeply ingrained the companies that own databases have become — but this is something I never would have considered deeply beyond how it personally affects me (a paywall that I, with the privilege of a library like this one near by, can regard as merely annoying) and I am very glad to have learned more about it.