hould academic libraries focus on building their own platforms or work to integrate into existing/future educational platforms? From “Revenge of the Underpaid Professors” in today’s Chronicle:

“Will Udemy eventually be the place where tens of millions of college students and teachers come together? I have no idea. The company is not the only one with these ambitions. Everyone in Silicon Valley is consumed with the idea of building platforms. Facebook is a platform for social interaction. eBay is a platform for auctions. Craigslist is a platform for localized financial transactions. iTunes is a platform for buying and selling music. Amazon is a platform for buying and selling all kinds of things. The platform builders rule the online world.”

If the future landscape of higher education will be a maze of online courses and personalized virtual spaces, is the library a player or provider? Priest or cathedral? Guide-on-the-side or sage-[building]-the-stage? While I don’t think these new platforms will radically change professors’ pay (though, they may indeed change the social standing of some extraordinary teachers), they do present new challenges for libraries, esp. regarding the form that our services will take in these communities.

As a side note, if someone would like to begin raising VC funds to develop a platform service for academic libraries that brings librarians and individual students/researchers together across institutional boundaries… I’m in. Who knows: we might just find a way to give all those unemployed MLIS graduates a job. =)