ACRLog has previously drawn our readers attention to the newspaper industry because it’s having problems that are similar in nature to those we experience as academic librarians. Both newspapers and academic libraries are information intermediaries. They package and connect readers with current news and information; we connect users with content via catalogs, databases, other e-resources, and our own knowledge. The challenge is that their readers and our users can now bypass us in our role as the intermediary to get right to the information they seek.
The latest circulation numbers for newspapers show that daily circulation is down an average of 2.8 percent over the last six months. Many newspapers are laying off staff. When Internet readership is included in the data actual readership is up, but newspapers have yet to find a way to create profits from their online news sites. Those newspapers that are having greater success do so because, according to Louis Hau of Forbes.com, they â€œemphasize local coverage,â€ â€œoffer stories you canâ€™t get anywhere else,â€ â€œkeep it short,â€ and present the news with â€œattitudeâ€ and â€œa point of view.â€ Academic librarians may do well to pay close attention to the newspaper industry as it explores better ways to battle their Internet competition. Strategies such as “focus locally” and “offer content you can’t get anywhere else” seem to play directly to the strengths of our local collections and knowledge of local information needs.