My Fat Paragraph on Thematic Collections would repeat some of the questions Palmer's article raised with me:
How do thematic collections differ from a library's selected sections? Don't thematic collections have the drawback that they provide and collocate only a limited and highly selected and privileged set of information resources that are available in scattered and richer resources in libraries, etc? What good or us is it to digitize and duplicate a selected set of resources around one theme, if most scholars are not going to use it to produce exciting, new scholarship and (digital) documents? What if I'm not interested in any of the themes of the scholarly thematic collections developed so far? She deals with many of these questions near the last part of her essay, especially the slippery distinctions or sameness between the library collections (special and subject) and thematic collections. Thematic collections or TCs in some ways seem simply larger versions of books or articles - they are collections or citations or references to a large number of sources in a large number of consulted libraries. Sure, it's nice to have it all digitally duplicated in one virtual place, but . . . There still remain huge problems about copyright. And other problems - not everything, that one identifies and would like to add, can be collocated in a TC or in another library, even through InterLibrary Services (does ILS provide a way to collocate scholarly materials?), as she describes it -"In the case of fragile items, handling is limited and photocopying or microfilming may be prohibited." If scholars can't consult these resources, even through travel, then digital theme collections will unlikely be able to add them either - so what's the benefit for TCs in such important cases?