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Budgets, Databases, and Trust

It’s been an interesting week. We learned that the Bibliography of the History of Art will die at the end of the month due to lack of funding (Carleton’s news item on the topic), and we learned that back in January, CSA/ProQuest stopped providing Biology Digest because it was a free database and therefore not profitable to continue providing. They didn’t tell us they were going to do this — they just explained why our links didn’t work after the fact. But that’s not actually the point. The point is: the Great Recession Strikes Again. Also, Don’t Put Your Faith in Online Subscriptions. So that’s two points.

ANYWAY, all this made me rail briefly against the Big Vendors for not saving these great resources when the little institutions started drowning, and then I railed for a while against the Not For Profits for not doing more to ensure the continuation of things we rely on, and then I moved back to railing against money in general, which I don’t like and have never really understood. And now I wonder, who is best suited to run these projects? Is it the smaller and/or private institutions that seem to have more invested in having highly curated collections? Or is it the massive institutions/corporations that promise more stable hosting and possibly wider distribution and therefore clout? Who would I trust more with something like the Bibliography of the History of Art?

And reading over those questions, I wonder if they’re even the right questions, or built off of the right assumptions.  Basically, I’d like my databases to stop disappearing. Thanks.

3 thoughts on “Budgets, Databases, and Trust

  1. P2P indexes? That *is* an interesting thought experiment. Though the trust issue would still hold: who will be the seeders? Is it a select group or anyone who wants to join?

  2. I’m not familiar enough with the technology, but … why not anyone who wants to be part of it? You get the data, you open it for sharing … of course, getting the data is the hard part, but if nobody will step forward to monetize it, I don’t understand why Getty won’t give it away. (Continuing it… that would require another interesting thought experiment…)

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