Gavia Libraria

Anticipating 2012

The Loon’s mad red eyes frankly don’t see very far. If she had been able to predict… many things that in hindsight were obviously coming, she’d be a happier avian. Nonetheless, playing oracle is too much fun to eschew merely on grounds of incompetence, so the Loon will push off from the banks and strike out for open water.

Likely flashpoints

  • A really big Big Deal will finally explode noisily. Small Big Deals are already crumbling, but they just aren’t enough to create an academe-wide furor. Twenty-eleven did produce three big-enough near-misses, however: Access Copyright in Canada, RLUK taking on Elsevier and Wiley, then backing down, and poor desperate Purdue’s last-minute one-year deal with Elsevier.

    For context on that last: One of the chief advantages of the Big Deal for libraries is predictable multi-year costing. For Purdue not to have inked a multi-year deal, negotiations must have skated perilously close to an impasse. The real question is when a major library or consortium can’t make that last push to produce the ransom money. Twenty-twelve is as likely a time as any.

  • MLSes will follow JDs in insisting upon transparency in job-placement rates. Inevitable; the job market is too tough. Sadly, this likely won’t train the necessary sharp eyes on the L- and I-schools who are funding faculty growth through becoming exploitatively overproductive MLS factories.
  • Maria Pallante will do something exceedingly witless and horrible. The signals sent by the US’s new Register of Copyrights are terrifying, especially for academic libraries. You thought SOPA was bad? Pallante could be worse, because one can’t filibuster the woman to stop her. Likely initiatives include bad orphan-works policy, an entirely unhelpful “section 108 revision,” and an Access-Copyright–like compulsory licensing scheme.

Grinding slow, but exceeding fine

  • The NSF will stay the course on data-management plans. They’re boiling frogs and they know it; they won’t raise the temperature too fast. This will leave some libraries in a bit of a bind; if all they do by way of research-data-management service is NSF consulting, they’ll likely run out of business.
  • PLoS will continue its growth. If there’s a smarter group of people in this business than PLoS, the Loon doesn’t know who it might be.
  • Anger at toll-access publishers will continue to gain faculty mindshare. This has been painfully slow in coming, but 2011 saw quite a few more outright philippics, and quite a bit less FUD and apologias from toll-access publishers, than heretofore. It’s not yet time to translate that into major gains for open access… but it’s a necessary start nonetheless.
  • Hathi Trust will survive and prosper. The Authors Guild’s lawsuits grow increasingly shrill and desperate. They won’t win anything by them. And while the orphan-works snafu was indeed embarrassing, it’s hardly fatal.


  • One PLoS One imitator announced in 2011 will fold in 2012. The Loon’s nonexistent money is on SAGE Open, but it could be any of them. Predictably, the toll-access-publisher lobby will trumpet this as a major open-access failure, ignoring both the success of PLoS One and the well-above-zero churn rate of toll-access journals. N.b.: 2012 could well be too early, but the Loon would be rather shocked (not necessarily in a bad way, of course) if this didn’t happen by 2015.
  • The silent war between MLSes and underemployed postdocs for library staff positions will come to a head. The Loon thinks MLSes will ultimately hold their ground, Jeff Trzeciak or no Jeff Trzeciak; this sort of battle has happened before. How ugly the war gets depends in part on how quickly Trzeciak’s institution hands him his head, which would scare other library administrators away from library-labor casualization via postdocs. (No matter when it happens, the Loon’s firm opinion is that it didn’t happen nearly soon enough.)

Anything could happen, and probably will

  • SOPA and its ilk. The Loon prays that the Internet discovers its lobbying spine. It’ll need it.
  • The eventual lawsuit-driven shape of Google Books. The Loon wouldn’t touch this with her tiniest, most expendable pinfeather.
  • Privacy in social media and on mobile devices. Worse and worse… we can certainly expect more scandals and more blunders; what the Loon wouldn’t even try to predict is the reaction thereto, from legislators or the social-media-using public at large.

2 thoughts on “Anticipating 2012

    1. LibraryLoon Post author

      Why, yes. Yes, the Loon does. Kudos to Emory for deigning to notice this post — because Emory is hiring postdocs en considerable masse.

      The Loon asks that Emory think about that practice. Think hard.