Okay, so I heard it second hand–I was nowhere near Seoul, Korea, for the 72nd IFLA conference (I’ve only been to IFLA once. . .when it was in Boston) when Sungdae Ahn, vice president and general manager of EBSCO Information Services-Korea, said, “Service, not content, is the new king.” While she might not have been the first to use that phrase, I’m not quite sure what I think of it.
I will give EBSCO their props for creating some pretty innovative services for the content that they already govern. A partnership with WebFeat has increased metasearch access for EBSCO A-Z (another EBSCO service). The EBSCONET Subscription Management System now supports 17 languages (including Korean).
I really like EBSCO’s NextReads, a new NoveList service that NoveList’s creator Duncan Smith was kind enough to show me at the last ALA. NextReads is a readers’ advisory service that taps into the long tail concept to suggest titles to subscribers. And lest we forget, EBSCO has lots of content.
Don’t get me wrong, I love online services. As a systems librarian, they are largely my stock in trade. But the librarian in me is not ready to dethrone content. Maybe it’s self-preservation kicking in, because I worry that (at least on the internet) our services don’t always measure up to our dot-com brethren.
At the risk of sounding a bit wishy-washy, I’m happy that the bar has been raised for online library services-—better catalogs, online chat, better system interoperability, expanded uses for the OpenURL, and so on. But without content, it all seems rather pointless. And, no, I don’t really think this is in the “chicken and the egg” category. Good service is key, but content is still king–long may it reign.