If you want a vision of what the library of the future could/should be all about, read the scenario presented on pages 2-3 of the Open Library Environment Project Final Report (Draft) PDF. Seriously, read it right now.
I am still working my way through the other 98 pages of the report, but that use case has me drooling.
The researcher uses her preferred library access tool (several options are supported by OLE) to perform an initial search. She finds a variety of resources in electronic and print form, which the search tool presents to her (using metadata provided by OLE) in a faceted browser. She selects the items of particular interest and adds them to her research resource portfolio for easier referral. To her, the process appears seamless and effortless, but behind the scenes, the library access tool works with OLE to obtain full-text copies of the resources (some from campus collections; some from interlibrary loan; some from Hathi Trust; some from outside subscription providers), license them if necessary, and route them for her use.
Other behind-the-scenes functions involve billing her research account for resources/services that require payment, processing ILB requests where needed (and notifying her of ETD), and sending print-on-demand items to her printer.
But wait — there’s more:
In the middle of her analysis, she realizes that some of the information would be useful in an undergraduate course she is teaching. Without leaving her work, she routes those resources to the campus Learning Management System with a couple of mouse-clicks and a quick cover note to explain to the students what has been added.
Moving toward a draft document, she transfers materials into a word processor. Thanks to OLE, each arrives will full bibliographic metadata attached and ready to auto-format (via tools such as Zotero) into a form suitable for the academic journal she is targeting. When she is ready to share, she stores a copy of the draft in her institutional repository (via an OLE-aware interface) and sends a link to her various academic (social) networking venues, to invite public comment.
If libraries really could create the research support environment described in the use case, I just might be tempted to go back into research … except that helping build and implement that kind of environment sounds pretty fun too!
I don’t know if OLE will really be able to fully deliver on this scenario, but I love that the OLE Project Team has given us all a concrete vision to work towards. Bravo OLE!