Two postings in one day! I must be getting addicted and perhaps I need some blogging rehab. My excuse is I want to mention that I have had a letter published in Update 6(3) March 2007 and it's letter of the month no less (oh still my beating heart!).
It's about public access to digital material. The issue is that we have in the Access to Libraries for Learning scheme an agreement by which members of the public can use academic libraries for reference (and most other regions now have a similar agreement under the Inspire scheme). However academic libraries increasingly hold journals and books in electronic format and these can not be accessed by members of the public. The problem is that a) these are covered by licenses which may prohibit public access, b) you need to be able to use the universities' networks and members of the public will not have access rights and c) academic libraries lack the resources (staff time) to implement solutions to these barriers.
A recent report has addressed this problem and makes a number of recommendations which would help but it does not address the key issue which is should academic libraries be responsible for providing public access to digital material? In the letter I argue that this is a question of national information policy and of course we don't have a national information policy. I will shortly be setting up a page on the SINTO wiki to give more information about this.