20 Association of Research Libraries Research Library Issues 299 2019 This is precisely the nut to be cracked in the quandary over the Elsevier corporation, which is self-designated as an “information analytics” (more commonly termed data analytics) company. At a practical level, Elsevier controls access to most of the world’s published research. Like other data analytics companies, Elsevier is able to leverage and monetize the insights gained from mining massive amounts of data about users. By an accident of history, academic libraries find themselves obligated to expend billions of dollars for contracts with Elsevier to ensure that the consumers of information (students, faculty, researchers, etc.) can access knowledge in the form of academic publishing. As libraries run up against the limits of their financial resources, they will have to consider what role they will play in the information economy. Librarians have begun grappling with the ethical nature of this situation and with the imperative of structuring a viable and sustainable future for delivering information. A major aspect of this ethical challenge that technology innovation is raising for libraries can be put more sharply: what relationship should exist between information (in the form of scholarly research, for instance) and markets? And never mind the adage that “information should be free.” In the real world of employees, book purchases, journal subscriptions, capital assets, and institutional finance, such a refrain merely dodges the question. Will academic libraries remain conduits for the behavioral data their users are generating? Should libraries also participate in deriving insights from user data and monetize those insights for ethical ends? Do there exist inherent tensions in this enterprise? As daunting as these challenges seem, the trajectory of technology innovation appears set to deliver even more complicated quandaries. As machine intelligence achieves greater capacity to read and understand expert material, at what point will AIs be recruited to write scholarly papers on subjects ranging from history to psychology to
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