The Little Professor gets down to the dollars and cents of why electronic resources have not quite revolutionized the way we do scholarship:

This argument…reinforces my suspicions that the New Golden Age of Electronic Research, far from subverting, transgressing, or doing any of those other popular verbs to the boundaries between Those Folks at R1s and Those Folks at Other Places, may well shore them up. My library does not subscribe to any of the major primary text databases in my field. Nor, at present, does it subscribe to all of the bibliographical resources I need to use….This could be because, well–let’s just make a random guess, shall we?–we don’t have the money to do this. (Actually, that’s not a random guess: I used to be the department’s library coordinator, and I know we don’t have the money.)…In other words, unless something is available online for free, I have no easy way of getting my hands on it. (Of course, I could always–wait for it–travel. Which kind of does in the savings, there.) If we’re thinking about possible discrepancies between a scholar’s profile at My Sort of Place and a potential job at a R1, then “let’s hike publishing requirements!” only accelerates the discrepancies in question.

In and of itself, that’s not an argument against McWilliams’ position. However, as Gergits points out, R1s and comprehensives are already split when it comes to the very definition of scholarship….(In the past, I’ve pointed out that there’s much more freedom at a comprehensive like mine to write whatever actually interests you, which is how I’ve come to specialize in authors nobody else has ever read. The flip side: people ask me why on earth I’m writing about such things.) Obviously, schools with more $ will fund more research that involves spending $–I’m not railing at this state of affairs. But I am railing at attempts to discuss the New Golden Age of Electronic Research in ways that do not acknowledge how localized that Age is currently proving to be. Yes, we have more free stuff; we also have lots more stuff that only a few, relatively well-funded colleges can purchase. Somehow, I don’t think piggy-backing on somebody else’s account is going to be the approved wave of the future.

It’s wonderful to think that with a few clicks of the button we will slough our privileges and frolic through a brave new world of online information and scholarship.

I can only recite one of my favorite lines from the 1995 BBC Pride and Prejudice: “You think that, Jane, if it gives you comfort.”

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