Listening to a thought-provoking presentation by Martin Weller recently  on ‘Blogging and Academic Identity’ raised a few questions about the challenges that digital scholarship sets for libraries.

Broadly, the idea is that some academics are increasingly building an academic identity using social networking tools.  Essentially they are building academic networks in the web 2.0 environment and are starting to publish to the web as an alternative to traditional academic publishing models.

For libraries a model of academic output that uses blogs, slideshare and flickr as much as peer-reviewed learned journals represents a major challenge and potentially leads to a fundamental rethinking of how libraries approach the management of resources.  Some of the issues include:

  • the potentially ephemeral nature of blogs, forums and other shared-spaces
  • how do librarians evaluate the value of material published in ‘social academia’?
  • how do librarians track down relevant links in blogs and evaluate the significance?
  • what about conversations that take place in shared spaces amongst networks of academics?
  • who is first to cite a twitter-stream? as  evidence of thoughts or concepts

The potentially ephemeral nature of web content in the social networking arena brings to mind the world of antiquity where our knowledge of some of the great ‘ lost works’ of ancient literature are only known to us by references to them in later works.   A curious situation for the 21st century