I have just spent some time at home in Ireland, a country which has changed enormously in the last fifteen years. On one of the several occasions that I was sitting in Dublin airport in recent weeks I read an article in the Sunday Tribune about the challenges facing Ireland in continuing to attract overseas investment and jobs in light of growing competition from Eastern Europe and Asia (July 3). It spoke about the desire of the IDA to see inward investment and job creation move "up the value chain": R&D functions are highly valued, for example. The IDA is the organization charged with attracting and growing overseas investment in Ireland. The line on its website emphasizes the preferred place in the value chain: "Ireland, knowledge is in our nature." Mmmm ...
Anyway, the article chimed strongly with parts of Friedman's The World is Flat which I had also been reading. He discusses how people and organizations are responding as certain types of work and business processes are commoditized and move to where they can most economically be carried out.
Moving up the value chain is a general issue.
And sitting there, it occurred to me that much of what libraries are doing in a network environment is also looking to move up the value chain - looking not just to make resources available on the network but to make them useful in new ways.
(Incidentally, Friedman's views on Ireland are challenged here.)