It seemed as if the unstated subtext of most of the conferences & meetings I went to this spring was that the boundaries between publishers and librarians is getting increasingly porous. Geoff Bilder made it explicit in his plenary session at the MLA meeting when he referred to a presentation that John Unsworth gave at the Society for Scholarly Publishing meeting several years ago titled, "Pubrarians and Liblishers: New Roles for Old Foes." Increasingly, librarians are starting to move into the publishing space and publishers are worrying about things that used to be the exclusive domain of librarians.
Despite this, we're still too often talking past each other, or not talking at all. We need more conversation. Which is why one of the most enjoyable things I did was the SSP "Chat With A Librarian" roundtables. Jean's done a good writeup of the event for the SSP website. The room was packed and ninety minutes flew by. We could easily have gone on longer.
Jean and I, along with Norm Frankel, will be using some of the feedback from that session to develop the Chicago Collaborative's "Libraries 101" modules, designed to present the broad array of library issues to people in publishing. The evidence of the SSP session is that many people in publishing are very hungry for more information about how libraries really operate and what librarians really want.
Anything that can foster more conversation will help. As those boundaries continue to become even more porous we're going to need the expertise of everybody involved in the scholarly communication chain more than ever.