Ten Stories That Shaped 2012

Submitted by John on Fri, 12/14/2012 - 09:16

It's that time again... let's look back at this year's top library headlines.

10. Bird Flu Study is Published

After researchers found a way to spread H5N1 to humans, an interesting test ensued of the bounds of free speech versus public health. Citing concerns over bioterrorism, a government panel wanted to ban publication of the scientific findings. The paper was printed, in full, in the journal Science.

9. Remember Those Boycotts?

Multiple generations of librarians have lamented over costly journal prices. Aside from the continued drive for
public access to funded research, libraries and now finally scholars are boycotting Elsevier and the American Chemical Society. Here's hoping the Open Access movement against profiteering publishers keeps growing.

Quote of the Year

"The economics of publishing print no longer worked and that's why we're going to go all digital" - Newsweek editor Tina Brown. How does your employer intend to survive?

8. Begun, the E-Book Wars Have

As e-books continue to gain mainstream dominance, thorny issues over lending, pricing, and the future of publishing remain crucial to follow.

7. Library Evolution Sparks Protests

Some library administrators now realize that running a change averse institution no longer has the survival value that it once did. The very notion of change, however, is still antagonistic to some. Two notable examples of adapting libraries this year are Harvard University and the New York Public Library.

6. National Library Efforts

Though still vaporware, the concept of a Digital Public Library of America, now with some major backers, holds promise. An initial launch is planned for 2013.

Honorable Mention

More libraries are going to the dogs. Has yours?

5. Georgia State E-Reserve Case

Libraries would not exist if copyright was an absolute. In a complicated case (as with Google Books and HathiTrust, aren't they always) of publishers suing over the use of electronic reserve readings, the verdict came out in the library's favor.

4. Kiosk Libraries Take Root

Kudos to the innovative Little Free Library project. Is there one in your community?

3. 3-D Printing

Those devices that create custom three-dimensional products on demand also generated a lot of buzz this year. There are promising business applications but also legal battles looming for such products.

Dis-honorable Mention

Regarding this year's bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey, Salman Rushie says it best.

2. Innocence of Muslims

As with the burning of the Quran by Terry Jones and later by soldiers in Afghanistan, people are dead because of this movie. Google has blocked access to the film in certain countries. Should there ever be limits to the freedom of speech?

1. Have you heard of... the Internet?

This year saw the continued growth of the Web and its interaction with human intelligence, not to mention our dependence on it, to the point of our devices now serving as an external drive to the brain. Prince and Clifford Stoll were wrong: the Internet is not a fad. What else will be taken for granted in a few more years? Cloud computing? Web-scale discovery? And where do libraries fit in this picture?

What's your favorite story of 2012?