Electronic publishing and libraries: Planning for the impact and growth to 2003

Electronic publishing and libraries: Planning for the impact and growth to 2003

Book Reviews 409 from the abuse of information. Her argument, which is quite persuasive, then develops thirteen legal principles emanating from the ...

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from the abuse of information. Her argument, which is quite persuasive, then develops thirteen legal principles emanating from the protection of personal information as property (p. 181): secrecy, privacy, confidentiality, publicity, commerciality, accessibility, reciprocity, integrity, interoperability, responsibility, liability, commonality, and equity. While the book’s overall argument and many specific examples are quite convincing, there are elements of it that are less so. Branscomb bases much of her argument on the assumption that we are in an Information Society and in an information economy-thus, we are forced to confront the failures of the legal system to adjust these new “facts.” One can recognize the strength of her argument and support her recommendations without accepting the ideological rhetoric of the Information Society. To her credit, the author pointedly criticizes the market-based arguments for unreflective information sharing which are so much a part of the information economy ideology. The reader can also call into question Branscomb’s assumption that asserting property rights in personal information (i.e. identifying “information assets”) is the best solution to the problems she so carefully and cogently describes. While leading legal commentators on communication share this assumption (e.g. Alan Westin and Arthur Miller), there is a growing school of legal and social thought that questions the defense of property solely on economic grounds. The work of Margaret Radin (1993). perhaps the leading proponent of this school, clearly argues for recognition of personhood based on moral and personal arguments, not economic/property arguments. This claim also highlights the larger context in which Branscomb’s book needs to be evaluated: her perspective is legal, although many of the questions she examines, as she notes, are larger social and ideological ones, questions beyond the frame of legal argument. There are also minor copyediting errors and infelicities of style, but they are relatively few and do not seriously distract the reader. In summary, Branscomb’s book clearly demonstrates how continuing controversy and social dissensus about the ownership of information are topics of wide social interest and essential to the success of American society. She also shows how the three traditional ways of protecting property, norms or ethics, technology, and law, are inadequate to the task in a society increasingly dependent on information technologies and information-based businesses. While we can question some of her premises, as citizens, consumers, scholars, and information professionals we must respond to the most pressing question of the book: “How can we weight the advantages of electronic disclosure against the threat of flagrant abuse?” (p. 72). Who Owns Information?: From Privacy to Public Access provides us with the means to frame a response. REFERENCES Radin, M. J. (1993). Reinterpretingproperry.Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. University of Texas at Austin Austin TX 78712-1276


Electronic Publishing and Libraries: Planning for the Impact and Growth to 2003. DAVID J. BROWN. British Library Research. Bowker Saur, London (1996). xii+200 pp. ISBN 1-85739-166-7. This concise and informative book provides a wealth of information on the current state of scholarly publishing and the likely future impact of electronic publishing. Prepared as a report for the British Library’s Corporate Research Group, it considers the period 1995-2003 with the intent of providing baseline data and forecasts which will allow the information community to plan for change. While the focus is the United Kingdom, the information provided covers world-wide statistics and projections. The author persuasively illustrates the imbalance between the increasing supply of scholarly information and the decreasing demand for it. Supply has increased as the number of scholarly journals proliferated due to growing population, the “twigging” phenomenon and publisher competition, while demand has fallen because subscription prices increased at the same time that library budgets declined both in gross terms and as a percentage of university budgets. Publisher response to declining revenues has been to increase subscription prices even further, a slippery slope that leads to more subscription cancellations. Electronic publishing further decreases demand because library budgets have not expanded to accommodate the new formats. The report concludes that the outcome of these trends is the death of the scholarly journal as we know it today. Meanwhile, those concerned with the viability of electronic publication for scholarly work will find projections that indicate that demand is likely to continue to decrease, while growth in the number of electronic publishers and products will inevitably increase. The book is particularly valuable because it draws together a range of statistics from disparate sources which look at the present situation and provide forecasts. The report is a gold mine of recent statistics (up to 1992) on the scholarly and electronic publishing industries, on library budgets and expenditures, on


Book Reviews

public expenditures for education and research and development, and on demographic and other factors which affect supply and demand for scholarly information. Projections of likely outcomes of the disparity between supply and demand are provided. The only caveat is that tables and graphs are sometimes reduced to almost unreadable size. Individual chapters include lists of references and the report is supplemented by a brief bibliography (32 additional recent titles to 1995), data appendices, a list of abbreviations and a thorough index to the text and figures. Highly recommended for academic libraries, scholarly and electronic publishers. Anyone interested in the survival of scholarly publishing will find this report a valuable and informative resource. Faculty of information Studies University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, M5S 3G6, Canada


Information and Business Performance: A Study of Information Systems and Services in High Performing Companies. IAN OWENS, TOM WILSON with ANGELA ABELL, Bowker Saur, July 1996, $60. ISBN: 1-85739-108-X. Studies of real environments that produce real data are frequently in short supply within information science and information systems research. Ian Owens, Tom Wilson, and Angela Abel1 are to be commended for undertaking and producing a major research study that attempts to address the relationships between information systems and business performance. Certainly the strengths and weaknesses of their research can be identified and this review will attempt to do just that. I prefer to start with the strengths, and there are many, before proceeding to any detectable limitations. This book provides a thorough report of a study of twelve high performing companies in the U.K., and their approaches to information management. One of the main strengths of the book, apart from the real data from real environments, is that the authors have considerable experience in conducting and publishing previous studies of information needs and technology in business. In this study they attempt to combine the practical and the theoretical by collecting data to be used in making real world decisions as well as contribute to the development of theoretical models of information use in business. Another strength of the research is that the study attempts to address an important issue: the relationship between information and business performance. Through a survey questionnaire and interviews with senior executives, the study teases out some important findings related to how high performing companies use technology, develop their knowledge base, and levels of information sensitivity and information ethos. The findings have strong implications for information management policies and information professionals. The authors found a general lack of coherent company information policies; information professions in these companies experiencing diminished influence; a slowness to embrace new technologies; a regard for internal but little for external information; and some growing recognition for the importance of effective information management within high performing companies. One wonders what happens in low performing companies! The results of the study seem to be bad news for information professionals, unless they recognize information management techniques are going to be “where the action is” in the future. A further strength of the book is the detailed presentation of the data in summary form supplemented by case study reports and comments by the researchers on the findings. Also the authors include a copy of the survey questionnaire to allow for easy replication. This study should be replicated in the U.K. as well as other countries such as the United States. This is a critical area of research. Some limitations of the study include the reliance on survey data, although this is supplemented with interviews. The study is in line with much information technology research that is based on survey data (Orlikowski and Baroudi, 1991). Surveys do provide useful data and surveys administered over time provide even more interesting data, however surveys only provide a snapshot of human behavior or decision making. This study has potential to elicit even further rich data through additional use of observations, focus groups, or other longitudinal data collection methods. The book also lacks a substantial bibliography for students or researchers who wish to pursue this area of research. But overall, this book is a must read for students and researchers of information management technology, and information professionals as it details a serious and fruitful piece of research. This research needs to be replicated and extended-however, I’m sure the authors are doing just that! REFERENCES Orlikowski,W. J., & Bamudi, J. J. (1991). Study of information technologyin organizations:researchapproachesand assumptions.InformationSystemsResearch,2(l), l-28. School of Library and Information Sciences University of North Texas Denton, Texas, USA