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The Internet and the Library Essay

Virtual libraries are frequently referred to as “libraries without walls” and it is the Internet that provides the “windows” and the “transparency” which makes this possible. It allows users who are physically isolated from the library to see in and it allows those inside the library to see out. Although the great dreams of Universal Availability of Publications (UAP) and Universal Bibliographic Control (UBC) (Law, 1998), that have enthralled generations of librarians, are still unfulfilled, the permeation of the Internet throughout every facet of daily life brings the dream closer to reality.

The major, but by no means exclusive applications of the Internet have been in the form of the World Wide Web and the establishment of intranets (locally based Internet functionality). Library Web sites In recent years a great deal of activity in libraries has been devoted to the design, implementation and refinement of library Web sites. These have formed the basic structure and infrastructure of the virtual library and the services have included online public access catalogues (OPACs), distance learning, library publicity, library holdings and other facilities.

OPACs Most libraries have devoted large expenditures on the development of online public access catalogues (OPACs). The online aspect of these catalogues, originally aimed at internal use, has now been extended to include external access. In addition to the library’s stock of materials, such as books and audio-visual materials, the OPACs can also provide access to the library’s journals holdings and enable outside users to determine which journals are held by the library and in which part of the library.

The Internet enables libraries at different locations to form networks involving their OPACs to give rise to powerful union catalogues, particularly of journals holdings. The cataloguing efforts have tended to be dual in that they use the Internet as a medium for The author Nick Moore is an Information Consultant, Visiting Professor at the University of Brighton, and Internet Editor of Library Review. Keywords Libraries, Librarians, Library services, Internet Abstract The current and future applications and implications of the Internet within and for libraries are indicated.

Aspects of the virtual library are considered, followed by the impact of the Internet on aspects of library holdings. Features of online access, including search engine performance, are noted and collection development effects pointed out. Security issues, including pornography and copyright are described, and finally future implications of the Internet for libraries, through home versus library use and discussion groups, and influences on the Internet of library science are discussed.

Electronic access The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at http://www. emerald-library. com Library Review Volume 49 . Number 9 . 2000 . pp. 422±427 # MCB University Press . ISSN 0024-2535 422 The Internet and the library Nick Moore Library Review Volume 49 . Number 9 . 2000 . 422±427 co-operation while developing techniques for cataloguing Internet-based materials (Weber, 1999). Distance learning Academic libraries serving a scattered student population can provide sophisticated distance learning programmes[1].

The widespread access of the Internet into the homes of the students ensures the success of these schemes and enables the libraries to provide course materials and other documents electronically to students scattered over wide areas, particularly rural areas. Typical applications include the DERAL (Distance Education in Rural Areas via Libraries) project[2] and Project LISTED (Library Integrated System for Telematics-based Education), a European Commission project part funded under the Telematics Applications Programme (Libraries sector)[3].

A number of models have been applied to the various ways in which the Web can be used as part of the student learning experience: . the “open resource model”; where the Web is accessed to retrieve information from diverse sources which may, or may not, be educationally-based; .

The “learning materials model” where the Web contains specific resources for students such as background reading recommended by academic staff; .the “teaching materials model” which contains information provided by academic staff and related to a particular course of study and may contain brief summaries of lectures and be a replacement for paper-based handouts; .

The “directed learning model” containing the complete set of learning materials for a course; . “computer assisted learning model”, involving computer-based training for self-study by students; and the “communication model” where students discuss and collaborate on their studies through facilities such as computer conferencing.

Library publicity The Internet has stimulated libraries into investing a great deal of time and imagination into providing information about the library and its services. The provision of searching facilities on most sites allows users to interrogate the Web sites.

An example of the range of library publicity options offered by a library Web site is the updated introductory library guide for first year undergraduates, produced by Bath University Library and Learning Centre in which the printed guide was replaced by a credit card holder bearing the Library logo and Web site URL on the front and a concertina insert with basic information (SCONUL Newsletter, 2000). Library holdings The implications of the Internet for library holdings are both wide-ranging and contentious.

The ability to replace internallyheld paper stock with either access to electronic equivalents via the Internet or storage and provision of electronic materials held on library or library-group intranets is particularly attractive given the growing pressures placed on the library’s ability to store physically a growing amount of material (Bawden, 1999; Rowlands, 1999).

Electronic journals The frustration (for libraries), caused by the reluctance of many journals publishers to face the perceived risks of moving away from printed and towards electronic journals, seems to be fading as the growth and acceptability of business-to-business electronic commerce is prompting publishers to make a commitment to the new formats.

In addition to the large number of free electronic journals that are currently available to libraries, there are a large number of subscription journals that offer libraries the ability to subscribe on the same basis as print or to access on a pay-for-view basis.

The role of the aggregator, well established in the world of print journals, in the form of the subscription agent, far from being rendered obsolete by the emergence of electronic journals has actually been reinvented and forms one of the main means by which libraries access electronic journals via the Internet (CatchWord[4], EBSCOhost/ EBSCO Online[5]). Electronic books Electronic books (e-books) are currently showing sign of taking off after a somewhat shaky start. Publishers who are contemplating shedding their book programmes could well be acting prematurely.

Many publishers are generating HTML versions of the first 423 The Internet and the library Nick Moore Library Review Volume 49 . Number 9 . 2000 . 422±427 chapters of their books and these will be extremely valuable as collection development tools. A range of sources describing e-books are available[6-10]. Patents An excellent example of the availability of freely accessible online databases is the wealth of full text patent databases (UK and US Patent Offices[11,12]) accessible on the Web.

The ability of users to access and obtain copies of UK and US patents from these databases has meant that the British Library’s patent libraries are virtually deserted and the remaining users tend to be those interested in old patents currently held on microfilm. As these patents become digitised, the British Library will be able to reallocate the space to other functions.

The vision of a library comprising electronic material is unattractive to many people but there can be no denying that electronic materials have both the means of relieving the pressure on space and the plasticity to lend themselves to easier transmission, copying and reprocessing into special formats such as talking books. There are still many problems remaining to be solved and these include issues of permanence in archival material[13].

Search engines It probably came as a nasty surprise to many to see the relatively poor coverage of the Web by the major search engines reported in recent studies (Lawrence and Lee, 1998; 1999).

Nevertheless, improvements continue to be made in the coverage, timeliness, functionality and special access features incorporated into the current range of search engines. Reviews of search engine features continue to appear regularly in the literature (Webber, 1998). Gateways, portals and vortals The value of Web sites as information sources for libraries has been greatly increased with the emergence of gateways, portals and vortals (vertically integrated portals).

These services provide structured access to other, related, Web sites and benefit the users from the intellectual effort that goes into the selection processes that are used to select the site (a process very much analogous to the selection process undertaken by libraries to gear library collections to the needs of library users). Portals and vortals are particularly valuable for business information and tend to provide information free of charge, the services being funded by advertising (Peek, 1999).

Online database access One of the major revolutions introduced by the Internet is the vastly increased access to online information made possible via the World Wide Web. The range of information sources, in terms of both bibliographic and image databases and specialized Web sites on all subjects is vast.

A huge improvement in the access to online medical information has been wrought through the provision of free and unlimited access to MEDLINE through a number of differently packaged versions, notably PubMed[14]. When this is coupled with online document delivery (Loansome Doc), the result is a powerful online tool for all libraries.

Similar examples include the free access to the ERIC database and to the full text patent databases mentioned above. The major online vendors, such as DIALOG, now all offer Web versions of their dial-up services, taking advantage of the possibilities of document delivery of electronic journal articles directly from the publishers or indirectly from the aggregators. Image databases As image databases continue to become important as means both of preserving images from printed media and for enabling access to visual information, so the need for indexing and subject access has become pressing.

Digital libraries of geospatial and similar multimedia content are currently deficient in providing fuzzy, concept-based retrieval mechanisms to users. Considerable work has been undertaken by the United Geological Survey in mechanising the labour-intensive processes of indexing and thesaurus creation for text documents and especially for images, where 800,000 declassified satellite photographs have been made available (Ramsey et al. , 1999).

Collection development, outsourcing, interlending and document delivery The Internet provides a number of opportunities for libraries to improve their collection development, interlending and 424 The Internet and the library Nick Moore Library Review Volume 49 . Number 9 . 2000 . 422±427 document delivery processes and switch to outsourcing. Collection development The process of collection development has been revolutionised by the emergence of brand new Web-based information sources, in addition to Web-based equivalents of traditional selection tools.

Of particular value for book selection is the Amazon. com family of Web resources, which incorporate searching facilities, reviews written by volunteers and mechanisms for purchasing books that have been selected.

Old favourites, such as Bowker’s Books in Print, have also launched Web sites with similar functionality and customer-friendly features. These selection tools will become even more powerful as publishers develop electronic books (e-Books) and release HTML versions of the first chapters of their books to these services enabling libraries to have even more information on which to make their selection judgements. The increasing acceptability of business-to-business electronic commerce is bound to make library purchasing a smoother and more efficient process and lead to cost savings.

Periodicals market forces, budgetary constraints and growth in electronic resources purchasing have resulted in a decline in the acquisition of print items. Due to the decline of print collections, libraries are exploring co-operative collection development of print materials to ensure access and preservation. The decline of approval plan use and the need for co-operative collection development may require additional effort for sound collection development (Blecic, 1999).

Outsourcing As the Internet and World Wide Web break down the barriers separating the library from the rest of the world and as communications are improved drastically, so the advantages, particularly to public libraries, of outsourcing library processes, such as cataloguing and acquisitions, are becoming increasingly attractive. The reason given most often by libraries for outsourcing was that it resulted in cost savings (Blecic, 1999).

Interlending and document delivery The underlying problem of interlending and document delivery has always been that of communication, whether it be the communication of information regarding materials to be loaned or the transmission of electronic copies of actual documents.

The influence of the Internet has been felt throughout this process and manifests itself in the use of electronic mail (e-mail) for ordering documents, the use of the Web for the transmission of electronic articles or other materials and the exploitation of the Internet’s ability to provide libraries with the opportunity to develop their collections beyond the walls of their libraries; where the physical location of materials is no longer the key issue, but rather the provision of timely access to information (Scully, 1999).

Security issues In addition to the security issues facing libraries in the use of electronic commerce for purchasing and similar cash transactions, there are also Internet issues involving the access, by children and young people, to pornography or other material likely to be considered unsuitable and to copyright issues. Access to pornography One of the challenges facing public libraries is that of unsupervised access to the Internet by children and young people.

Public libraries are increasingly adding Internet and Web access, along the lines of the burgeoning cybercafes. Considerable concern has been A expressed regarding the possibility of children and young people becoming corrupted by some of the less attractive corners of the Web. Part of the problem lies in the shortcomings of the search engines which can give some very strange “false drops”. These problems, together with the possibility of deliberate access, have been addressed by attempts to develop “filtering” software; so far with mixed results.

Currently available filtering software and services are notoriously clumsy, sometimes blocking perfectly respectable sites and curtailing whole areas of legitimate enquiry for young people through the use of terms which might have sexual connotations (Stoker, 1999). Many companies are installing software designed to block access, by employees, to selected Internet sites (Rudich, 1999). The issue tends to be wrapped up with considerations of freedom of information and is still racked with contention. 425.

The Internet and the library Nick Moore Library Review Volume 49 . Number 9 . 2000 . 422±427 Copyright Publishers have tended to have mixed feelings about the Internet and libraries. The marriage between publishers and libraries, though a natural and, for the most part, a symbiotic one has always been fraught with difficulty, with each tending to suspect the other of infidelity from time to time. The emergence of the Internet has served to make a difficult marriage even more so, despite the fact that enormous opportunities exist.

Publishers probably do not have enough experience yet to make permanent policy about copyright and fair use but everyone involved in the publishing chain should be flexible and trust the market to dictate what is required[15]. Science owes more to the steam engine F F F The profound influence that the steam engine had on the development of ideas in thermodynamics is finding an echo in the influence that the library and information science (LIS) profession is starting to have on certain aspects and functions of the Internet.

The search engines, which started out in isolation from the mainstream of LIS research, are beginning to take stock and apply some of the long-established library techniques, particularly classification, to additional layers of structure to Web sites. An important example of where library practice has influenced Web site design and search engine functionality is in the emergence of metadata (Vine, 1999; Heery, 1996).

OCLC’s Dublin Core metadata elements, drawing heavily on the structured computerised bibliographic database formats, such as MARC, originally developed for sharing cataloguing data, are playing an increasingly important role in bringing order to the Web[16]. Similarly, the efforts expended by the library and information community in creating USMARC Field 856 (Electronic Location and Access) (Riemer, 1998), Persistent Uniform resource Locator (PURL)[17] and the Digital Object Identifier (DOI)[18-20] have played a significant role in achieving greater library exploitation of the Internet.

One possible outcome could be the demise of the traditional abstracting and indexing (A&I) services, which have for a long time been sources of heavy expenditure for libraries. As search engines become increasingly sophisticated and publishers include metadata (including abstracts and indexing) with their electronic journals, the need for A&Is could diminish unless they can make a sufficiently good case for their standardised indexing.

Another example of this phenomenon is the way that the traditional concept of selective dissemination of information (SDI) has become adopted by the Internet in the form of “push” technologies (Solomon, 1999). Home use versus library use Of all the library/Internet challenges yet to become clearly defined is the likely future effect of home access to information sources on the Web. Users who can access full text databases from the comfort of their homes may avoid the traditional visit to the library.

The trend towards end-user searching, much vaunted and much maligned in the 1980s and early 1990s, where it was applied to dial-up online services, is now starting to come into its own with access to the Web. Public libraries may not be affected as much as academic libraries and the services provided by national libraries, but the question arises as to the degree to which the powerful information access tools that are readily available to anyone with a personal computer (PC) at home and access to the Internet will reshape some of the services and service philosophies currently applying to libraries.

Discussion groups The application of the Internet and World Wide Web, as a medium for various levels of discussion and the communication of ideas and views, is becoming particularly valuable for library and information science (LIS) professionals who can use discussion software, Usenet, electronic mail discussion lists (Mailbase, LIS-LINK), electronic conferencing, instant messaging, chatrooms and videoconferencing to assist them by calling on the expertise of other LIS professionals if they have particular needs or are stuck for ideas. 426 The Internet and the library Nick Moore.

Library Review Volume 49 . Number 9 . 2000 . 422±427 Notes 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 < http://www. patent. gov. uk/dbservices/> 12 < http://www. uspto. gov/patft/index. html> 13 14 < http://www. ncbi. nlm. nih. gov/entrez/query. fcgi> 15 16 17 18 19 20 References Bawden, D. (1999), Libri, Vol. 49 No. 4, December, pp. 181-91. Blecic, D. D. (1999), Bulletin of the Medical Library Association, Vol. 87 No. 2, April, pp. 178-86. Heery, R. (1996), Program, Vol. 30 No. 4, October, pp. 345-73. Law, D. (1998), Library Review, Vol. 47 No. 5/6, pp. 296-300. Lawrence, S. and Lee, C. G. (1998), Science, Vol.

280 No. 3 April, pp. 98-100. Lawrence, S. and Lee, C. G. (1999), Nature, Vol. 400 No. 8, July, pp. 107-9. (Summarized by David Green in Information World Review, No. 151, October 1999, pp. 31-32 and in a three page summary from Steve Lawrence . Peek, R. P. (1999), Information Today, Vol. 16 No. 8, September, pp. 36-7. Ramsey, M. C. et al. (1999), Journal of the American Society for Information Science, Vol. 50 No. 9, July, pp. 826-34. Riemer, J. J. (1999), Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, Vol. 26 No. 2, pp. 5-9. Rowlands, I. (1999), Libri, Vol. 49 No. 4, December, pp.

192-202. Rudich, J. (1999), Link-Up (USA), Vol. 16 No. 2, March/ April, Vol. 6 No. 12. SCONUL Newsletter, (2000), Vol. 19, Spring, pp. 25-26. Scully, P. (1999), Australian Library Journal, Vol. 48 No. 2, May, pp. 178-88. Stoker, D. (1999), Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, Vol. 31 No. 1, March, pp. 3-6. Vine (1999), Vol. 116, pp. 6-48; Vol. 117, pp. 3-53. Webber, S. (1998), Business Information Review, Vol. 15 No. 4, December, pp. 229-37. Weber, M. B. (1999), Library Hi Tech, Vol. 17 No. 3, pp. 298-303. Solomon, M. (1999), Searcher, Vol. 7 No. 6, June, pp. 70-6.


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