Apr 12, 2011 9:55 AM | 0
This post comes from Melissa, a librarian here at Brooklyn Public Library.
You've probably heard of the system that the New York Times has recently put in place for digital subscriptions: the paywall.
There has been an outpouring of opinion after opinion on the subject, as well as analysis of the initiative. Here at BPL, we've put together our own response: a tutorial to show how you can access the full text of the New York Times through library resources.
Comment #33 on the BoingBoing post about the Times paywall is one of the few places in the non-librarian blogosphere where I've seen an acknowledgment that many public libraries subscribe to databases that contain the full text of newspapers, magazines and journals. BPL, for one, pays for access to dozens of databases (not just ones with articles) so that we can make them freely available to you, our public. In other words, it's your tax dollars at work. Just as we use Brooklyites' money to purchase books, DVDs and other borrowable materials, we also put these funds toward online access to resources of all kinds. In the case of the New York Times, you can go through BPL's website and read articles dating from the newspaper's founding in 1851 through the current day. Full-page images are provided for content dating from 1851 through 2007.
So, take a look at the range of database access BPL offers and consider it part of your information ecosystem. As for the New York Times paywall, workarounds will emerge, but these won't resolve the greater question of how journalists can be compensated and how publications (in either their digital or paper forms) can stay alive in the twenty-first-century.
Needless to say, lots of smart people are thinking about the big picture. And for those interested in libraries and journalism, the first-ever Beyond Books conference—News, Literacy and Democracy for America's Libraries—just wrapped. Take a look for some ideas about what the future of community and democracy could hold.